Novembre 2021, Luk Bouckaert et Knut Ims étaient de passage pour préparer un séjour de SPES – l’institut européen de spiritualité en économie et société – sur le thème de business ethics et écologie en lien avec Albert Schweitzer prévu pour le 15 au 18 septembre 2023.


An initiative from the European SPES Institute in cooperation with ABC Climont (France)

The main idea of the project is to recontextualize Albert Schweitzer’s eco-oriented ethics for our time – the Anthropocene. We believe that Albert Schweitzer formulated an experience-based foundation for ethics based on the principle Reverence For Life (Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben), and that he hereby contributed to a pioneering eco-ethics that should be brought up to date for our time. Schweitzer’s philosophy implies a new sense of authenticity no longer based on the modern ego-centric notion of autonomy but on the alter-centric notion of reverence for life. This foundational principle is conceived as an unconditional and inclusive respect for life in all its manifestations..

The aim of the project is threefold:

  1. to disclose the potential of Albert Schweitzer’s eco-oriented ethics for our time and to relate his philosophy to other eco-thinkers like Henri David Thoreau, Henri Bergson, Martin Buber, Arne Naess,  etc)
  2. to clarify the relational ontology/metaphysics behind his ethics of reverence. What’s the meaning of Life in Schweitzer’s metaphysic? How to combine cosmic spirituality with an inter-personal philosophy (Levinas) ? How to combine the idea of oneness and harmony with the evolutionary theory of ‘struggle for life’, conflict and competition? How to integrate suffering and pain in a relational metaphysic?
  3. to clarify Schweitzer ‘s method of discernment. How to solve contextual conflicts among different forms of life within an ethic that claims an unconditional and inclusive respect for life?  Is it allowed – and who is allowed – to kill some forms of life within an ethic based on the universal principle of reverence for life? What kind of action is needed to overcome deadly clashes of interests between humans and animals (e.g. the case of clashes of interests between wolfs and farmers)? What’s the link between Schweitzers’ ethic of reverence and Gandhi’s principle of non-violence? 


  1. Exploration workshop nov 26 – nov 30, 2021 at ABC Climont (Urbeis, Les Vosges, France)  with Prof. Chris Doude Van Troostwijk. Visit of the Schweitzer Museum at Gunsbach. Meeting with Alexandra Breukink, pastor at Gunsbach. Formulation of the project proposal.
  • Autumn 2023 ( September 15 – 18 ): Workshop at Climont to discuss the project with an invited panel (members of SPES and some Friends of ABC Climont and univ of Strassbourg) and to explore in depth the theme of eco-ethics and relational metaphysics.

The project is supported by  

  • Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai (Univ of Budapest, Hungary), president of the European  SPES Institute
  • Prof. em. Luk Bouckaert (KU Leuven, Belgium), founder and steering member of the SPES-forum vzw
  • Prof.em. Knut Ims (NHH, Bergen, Norway), active fellow of the European SPES Institute
  • Alexandra Breukink, Pasteure UEPAL et Chargée de mission ABC-Climont
  • Prof. Chris Doude van Troostwijk (VU Amsterdam, Netherland & Luxembourg School of Religion & Society ), ABC Climont