The Academy of Philosophy and Letters was founded in recognition that the direction of society is set by its most deeply held beliefs and aspirations. These are molded by culture in the broad sense, as represented by universities, the arts, churches, publishing, museums, and entertainment. Acting on the minds, imaginations, and moral-spiritual sensibilities of a society’s members, the culture shapes their general perception of reality and their likes and dislikes—for good or ill. Politics does not operate independently of the culture but reflects it. Though politics can also shape culture, being able to exert educational and other cultural influence is ultimately more important than winning elections. Major and long-range change presupposes a transformation of the culture.
The Academy pursues a deeper understanding of the meaning, origins and development of civilized life, especially in the Western world, and of how a humane society can best counteract threats to its own survival. The Academy seeks explanations for acute problems in America and the rest of the world and addresses how they might be overcome. To this end, the Academy promotes exploration of moral, religious, epistemological, literary, artistic, and scientific issues, including their relation to politics and economics. The Academy recognizes the importance of the historical dimension of civilized life and acknowledges the profound responsibility of those who live now to preserve the best of the cultural inheritance and to transmit it, improved if possible, to future generations. Just as the Academy recognizes the indispensability of national sovereignty and the need for civilizations and societies to cultivate the best in their particular traditions, so does it explore and foster values that constitute a common human ground.
The Academy eschews ideological and political partisanship in favor of the pursuit of truth for its own sake. It cherishes intellectual integrity and humility.
The Academy sponsors conferences, seminars, symposia, and lectures, encouraging an open and vigorous but always civil exchange of views. It circulates its findings using suitable media.
Membership is by election. The members share a deep interest in the aforementioned issues and an ability to contribute to their elucidation.