Symposium "Learning to be Human for Global Times: Current Challenges from the Perspective of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion", April 7th-8th, 2017


On the 7th and 8th of April the international Symposium „Learning to be Human for Global Times: Challenges and Opportunities from the Perspective of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion” took place at the Campus of the University of Vienna. The event was organized by Brigitte Buchhammer and Herta Nagl-Docekal in cooperation with the researchplatform RaT, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. The Symposium was dedicated to the general topic of the XXIV. World Congress of Philosophy in the year 2018. Due to the longtime and intense cooperation of Brigitte Buchhammer with the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (Washington D.C.), the results of the Symposium will be published and presented at the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing in 2018.  Speakers from six different nations and eleven different Universities ensured a varied and multidisciplinary examination concerning the questions of humanity and what it means to be and become human in a global context. The researchplatform RaT was represented by Kurt Appel, Isabella Guanzini and Birgit Heller. The first panel was introduced by Kurt Appel with a paper on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, which investigated Hegel’s notion of Religion as a radical rupture in human self-reflection. Subsequently Thomas Schmidt (Professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt) presented his contribution about Georges Bataille’s concept of an atheistic religion and its relevance for human intimacy. Further contributions revealed the necessity for renewed reflection on the ethical dimensions of being human in times of the climate crisis and growing utopias of “moral enhancement”. Birgit Heller’s paper enriched the discussion by an important interreligious investigation from the perspective of religious studies. The necessity to develop a global ethics in the sense of cosmopolitan moral duties, which was inherent in all discussions, was highlighted by Herta Nagl-Docekal’s interpretation of Kant’s philosophy of history. The role of religion between ethics and the experience of radical contingency became a focal point of reflections considering the constantly critical, ruptured and abysmal character of being human. The complex and abysmal structure of human desire and its humanizing potential within a dialectics of desire and law were considered by Isabella Guanzini’s interpretation of Jacques Lacan. The pedagogical dimension of becoming human was stressed by many speakers referring to traditional as well as modern positions reaching from Lessing to Arendt. The wide spectrum of perspectives on the topic of being human allowed to encompass the philosophy of pragmatism as well as current new approaches to performativity in theology.      


Organization: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Buchhammer and Univ.-Prof. i.R. Dr. Herta Nagl-Docekal
(both Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna)

Cooperation: RaT

Location: Seminary room of the Institute for Ethics and Law in Medicine (Ethik und Recht in der Medizin) (=Old Chapel at the Campus of the University of Vienna), court 2.8, Spitalgasse 2–4, 1090 Vienna