James Leatt was nine when the Nationalist Party came to power, and eleven when he saw a documentary of the Allied forces liberating Nazi death camps. For most of his life the shadows of apartheid and the Holocaust have dogged his beliefs about faith, the meaning of life and the moral challenges humankind faces.
Conjectures is a philosophical reflection on his life and times as he grapples with the realities of parish work in black communities, teaching ethics in a business school under apartheid, managing a university in the dying days of the Nationalist regime, and eventually working in higher education in post-apartheid South Africa.
Weaving strands of his personal life with the questions of theodicy and modernity as well as drawing upon the Western philosophical tradition and the wisdom of East Asian traditions such as Taoism and Buddhism, he comes to terms with a disenchanted reality which has no need for supernatural or magical thought and practice.
He has learned to live with questions. If you no longer believe in God and a sacred text, what are your sources of meaning? What kind of moral GPS allows you to find your way? Is what might be called a secular spirituality even possible?
Conjectures traces the author’s search for a secular way of being that is meaningful, mindful and reverent.
Publication date: August 2021
Also available on Kindle: Conjectures – Living With Questions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DR JAMES (JIM) LEATT began his career in banking before becoming a Methodist minister, working on the Cape Flats, in District Six and at the Federal Theological Seminary, Alice. In 1977, he became Lecturer in Religious Studies at UCT. His work in industrial relations mediation and interest in applied ethics led to a joint appointment with the GSB at UCT in 1980. Three years later, he was appointed to the first chair in Social Ethics at a South African business school. In 1985, he became a Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Principal at UCT, and in 1991, he took up the post of Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Natal, where he initiated a major strategic review of the university. On his return to Cape Town, he became CEO of the Cape Higher Education Consortium involving the four public universities in the Western Cape, and consulted in higher education.
He is the author of journal articles, chapters in books, and is editor-in-chief of Contending Ideologies in South Africa (David Philip, 1986 & 1989). He was a founder member of the Independent Mediation Service of SA (IMSSA). He retired after eleven years as Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), and as Deputy Chair of the Tertiary Education Network (TENET).
James and his wife Jenny live in Somerset West. They have two children, Christopher and Ann-Marie.