Philanthropy and Human Rights: The Genealogy of the Idea from Antiquity to Global Society

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    In the last couple of decades, philanthropy has become a concern which is taken seriously in the Western world. Normal people give donations and volunteer on a large scale within the institutions of civil society. This is the case for business corporations as well, who now have to act with a form of personal responsibility. Such a responsibility is institutionalized in the big global CSR movement, which has now been integrated in the UN Global Compact. Philanthropy has many dimensions; these include ethical, juridical, political, economic and cultural dimensions. In the last years, a lot has been written about philanthropy from a political, sociological, anthropological and managerial perspective. However, an essential question remains: what does philanthropy mean? In a Greek context, philanthropy is connected to a friendly act towards one’s owns close connections such as family or fellow citizens, and normally utilized to promote one’s own prestige in the city-state. In Roman context, universal humanism, humanitas, was invented. This universal perspective was also supported by Christianity. It is this universal concept of philanthropy which is the foundation for the different philanthropic traditions in Germany, England, France and USA. In each tradition is developed special features of the concept of philanthropy. The four traditions are summarized in the UN universal human rights, which has become the common normative reference for global philanthropy. In this way philanthropy has become, in a modern sense, a charitable act with the aim to promote human happiness independent of gender, class, race, etc. This is the genealogy of the modern understanding of philanthropy, which will be developed in this paper.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number2
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    EventWinter Symposium Nordic Summer University 2013: Towards a New Ethical Imagination: Political and Social Values in a Cosmopolitan World Society - Akureyri, Iceland
    Duration: 1 Mar 20123 Mar 2013


    ConferenceWinter Symposium Nordic Summer University 2013

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