This volume aims at cultivating and enlightening our philanthropic imagination. It addresses us all as present and future philanthropists, as human beings who give, serve, and seek to promote the well being of others. It suggests that we are continually confronted with choices about giving, and offers a collection of writings intended to help us reflect more seriously on these choices, and to make philanthropic acts, when they are undertaken, more meaningful.
The readings contained in The Philanthropic Imagination come from a variety of cultures, time periods, and genres. They represent classical works of literature, philosophy, and religion, but also contemporary and popular writings. Selections are drawn from the works of Aristotle, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, C. S. Lewis, Alexis de Tocqueville, Martin Luther King, P. G. Wodehouse, Sholom Aleichem, and Shel Silverstein, among others. They are organized by the specific question they address: When, why, how, to whom, and what should we give?
Amy Kass provides a general introduction to the book, as well as introductions to each selection. The introductions offer context for each reading and questions to guide reflection, but they do not supply uniform answers. The answers must come from the reader.