Institutes and Centres
Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities

The Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities

In keeping with its own history and tradition, the Giorgio Cini Foundation has created a Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities. The new Centre has evolved naturally from the previous Venice and the East Institute, which was founded in 1958 with the principal aim of promoting the study of the civilisations of India and the Far East. Over the years it was a forum for continuous dialogue between East and West, between different peoples, cultures and religions as well as a resource for scholars from all over the world attracted by its remarkably rich library or its seminars, conferences and publications.
The new centre will characterised by:
1) A  comparative approach – seen as the best antidote to all forms of fundamentalism – and the fostering of dialogue between cultures as a way of exchanging and comparing not only different notions but also different political, theoretical and aesthetic experiences.
2) An emphasis on the religious and spiritual dimension and the sapential traditions of the cultures being compared. The term “sapiential traditions” refers to human beings’ responses in different cultural contexts to questions about the meaning of being in the world, about the ideals of improving the self and the best existential paths to achieving them.
3) The recognition of the transformational power of religious traditions. Faced with various crises (envrionmental, economic and moral) that have been afflicting our societies, only religious and spiritual traditions seem to be able to arouse the feelings and generate the energies required to produce radical paradigm shifts.
4) A wider perspective to take in the most important sapiential traditions in the world and not only Eastern ones, highlighting in particular those traditions that have contributed to shaping the European identity.The Library
The Library of the Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities has several collections specialised in Eastern culture with an emphasis on the great spiritual traditions both in the East and the West.
Moreover, thanks to the Daniélou Bequest, the Centre houses an enormous collection of manuscript copies of sacred musicological treatises from Indian traditions and books useful for the study of traditional philosophy. The library is equally specialised in journals dedicated to the comparative study of cultures, which the Cini Foundation is committed to updating every year. The Beijing Imperial Library microfilm archive is a further very valuable resource in the collections.
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