The Common Task
See our article on
Madonna by van der Weyden

The Common Task is a research center devoted to the humanization of culture.

Our approach to this huge task is to focus on the relation between formal and spiritual beauty. (See our Philosophy section for more on this theme).

We see a significant source of ugliness in today's world in what is variously known as consumerism or 'free market' capitalism. In our Research section we've outlined two inter-disciplinary projects whose aim is to flesh out some promising alternatives.

Lest all this sound terribly abstract, it's worth stating right away that, in the case of our project on re-imagining the city, for example, our goal is actually quite down-to-earth. We would like to see cities where people do more walking, more meeting of other people in the flesh and blood, and less driving, e-mailing, and instant messaging.

Hindu coupleNone of the big questions that interest us can be adequately addressed within the strictures of any single 'area of expertise.' That's why we need to attract to our work a diverse community, one that includes theologians and physicists, ecologists, economists, architects and who knows what else. (A few saints would come in handy.)

Yes, we intend to do research, and publish things; and perhaps someday we will even be so bold (or crazy?) as to attempt influencing this or that public policy.

But in our hearts we know that the most serious questions are best resolved in person, through long conversations, and ultimately only through friendship.

Take a look around. And feel free to drop us a line.

Contact Info

Phone: (301) 502-7184


Pictures: (Above right) Madonna, Rogier van der Weyden (c. 1460), Musee des Beaux Arts, Caen, France. (Bottom left) Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore in a scene from Satyajit Ray's "The World of Apu."