International Conference: Objectivity and Truth in Cassirer’s Philosophy 7. Oktober 2021 - 8. Oktober 2021 | 11:00 Uhr - 21:30 Uhr

„Is there really something like an objective theoretical truth […]? In a time in which such questions can be raised, philosophy cannot stand aside, mute and idle.“ (Ernst Cassirer: Symbol, Myth, and Culture, p. 61.)

There is no doubt that this question, which Cassirer found indicative of the European Zeitgeist of the first decades of the twentieth century, also pervades Western culture today. In times of fake news, conspiracy theories, alternative facts, and science denial, as well as the rise of political myth and the erosion of expertise and democratic institutions, doubt about the possibility of objectivity and truth is a defining characteristic of contemporary culture. Hence, if we follow Cassirer, philosophy has once again a crucial societal duty to fulfill: the duty to safeguard some notion of objectivity and of truth against epistemic and cultural relativism, skepticism, and indifference.

This conference aims to reconsider the enduring relevance of Cassirer’s own philosophy in view of this challenge. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms was after all an ambitious attempt to radically widen and diversify the meaning of objectivity without forfeiting its claims to universality or its firm footing in human reason. By ascribing to mythical, religious, and linguistic perceptions and expressions an objective status that most of Western philosophy had preserved for scientific thought, Cassirer’s philosophy can however be taken as either enriching or weakening the ideas of objectivity, truth, and rationality. In view of the current crisis of truth, we thus ask what Cassirer’s theory of culture and of science can teach us about the plurality, relativity, or universality of human understanding.


Keynotes: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Luft (Marquette University) und Prof. Dr. Samantha Matherne (Harvard University); Speakers: Elio Antonucci (Universität zu Köln), Prof. Dr. Francesca Biagioli (Università di Torino), Massimiliano D‘Acconti (Università di Bologna), Dr. Luigi Filieri (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Dr. Jacob Hesse (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), Dr. Isabel Jacobs (Queen Mary University of London), Prof. Dr. Katherina Kinzel (Universiteit Utrecht), Dr. Luigi Laino (Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II), Dr. Andrea Reichenberger (Universität Siegen & FernUniversität in Hagen), Dr. Domenico Schneider (Technische Universität Braunschweig), Alex Seuthe (Technische Universität Dortmund), Benedetta Spigola (Università degli studi Roma Tre), Dr. Philippe Stamenkovic (Aix-Marseille Université), Dr. Noah Stemeroff (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn), Prof. Dr. Katherine Ward (Bucknell University), Dr. Elisabeth Theresia Widmer (Universität Wien)

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