Centro Studi di Civiltà e Spiritualità Comparate

Francesco Piraino

tel.:041 27210228
email: civilta.comparate@cini.it

Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities
In line with its history and tradition, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini has recently created a Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities. The Centre developed out of the pre-existing Venice and the East Institute, founded in 1958 with the primary purpose of promoting the study of the civilisations of India and the Far East. Over the years, the Institute became a forum of constant dialogue between East and West, involving different peoples, civilisations and religions, as well as a resource for scholars from all over the world, thanks to its rich library, seminars, conferences and publications.
The new Centre is characterised by its focus on:

1) A comparative approach - seen as the main antidote to all forms of "fundamentalisms" - and the promotion of dialogue between civilisations, understood as exchanges and comparisons not only of different ideas but also of different political, philosophical and aesthetic experiences.
2) An emphasis on the religious and spiritual dimension as well as the knowledge traditions in the civilisations being studied and compared. The term "knowledge traditions" refers to the answers that human beings have given in different cultural contexts to questions about the meaning of life in the world, the ideals of self-perfection and the best existential paths to be followed in achieving them.
3) Recognition of the potential of religious traditions to bring about change. Faced with the ecological, economic and moral crises destroying our societies, only religious and spiritual traditions seem able to arouse the emotions and generate the energy required to produce radical paradigmatic shifts.
4) The broadening of outlook to include great world knowledge traditions and not only in the East, with a special emphasis on those that at various times have contributed to defining the European identity.

The Library of the Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities is characterised by its book collections specialised in the cultures of the East with a particular focus on the great spiritual traditions of the world, both in the East and the West.
The Centre has a remarkable collection of manuscript treatises on the traditional sacred music of India and of books on the study of traditional Indian philosophy. Its Library is also specialised in journals dedicated to the comparative study of civilisations, which the Fondazione Cini constantly updates and adds to. A further highlight is the microfilm archive of the Beijing Imperial Library.