The conference is structured round three main subject areas: (1) Humanist thinking today; (2) The subtle sciences vs hard sciences; and (3) Posthumanism: beyond humanism?
Each of these thematic areas will consist of oral presentations (papers) as well as workshops conceived above all as spaces for dialogue and debate.
1. Humanist thinking today
Guest speaker: Jordi Pigem (Philosopher of science and writer)
We are all well aware that the humanities, inspired by humanist thinking, have changed the world. We are talking about values, ideals and a particular way of understanding reality. We are talking about critical thinking, ethical thinking, creative thinking. No-one would question the need for the humanities. Nevertheless, there is a question relating to whether the humanities, as they have developed over time, continue to raise questions and at the same time provide valid answers to the challenges confronting society today. It is possibly the case that the false myths that have grown up under the protection of the humanities have led them to their current crisis. Humanist thinking relates to the human species in its entirety, but to what extent does it address the diversity that globalization is currently making more patent than ever? Can humanist values be said to be in decline in the world? To what extent do the dynamics of those societies forged by the humanities offer a faithful reflection of humanistic values? What, in fact, are these values? Is it necessary perhaps to humanize the thinking and practices of the humanities?
2. Soft versus Hard sciences
Guest speaker: Fernando Vidal (ICREA – Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies / Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – CEHIC)
It was in the nineteenth century that a clear awareness emerged of the separation between the type of knowledge focused on human issues and that which sought to understand the natural world. This resulted in the distinction between two areas of knowledge, which later became three: natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Reference is made to the hard sciences, and the soft sciences, although the pejorative tone of the word ‘soft’ has led to a preference, on occasion, for the term ‘subtle sciences’ (Rosi Braidotti). Clearly, there are no hard and fast divisions between these categories; rather, there are bridging disciplines such as the cognitive sciences, neurolinguistics or evolutionary anthropology. However, despite this, the fragmentation of scientific practices can create a problem when, beyond the needs of specialization, the ideal of consilience is not taken into consideration. Transdisciplinarity is essential. The object of study, the theory and the methodology basically determine the differences between the disciplines, but are the administrative divisions in universities and research centres, as well as the bureaucracy of the political sciences, connected with this pigeon-holing? Do the humanities need the hard sciences for their conceptual health, as has sometimes been argued? To what extent can the ‘subtle’ sciences offer a buffer against the scientism or, on the contrary, be negatively influenced by it? Could it be necessary, within the field of the humanities, to take into consideration criteria of productivity, evaluation and accreditation different to those cultivated in the hard sciences?
3. Post humanism : beyond humanism ?
Guest speaker: Ewa Domanska (Adam Mickiewicz University)
Posthumanist theory has criticized humanism which is seen as a specific historic phenomenon, considered insufficient to understand the complex network of interrelationships between human beings and their environment. Going beyond the antihumanism posited, for example, by Heidegger, Althusser or Foucault, posthumanism takes as its starting-point a different conceptualization of the human, adopting a decentralized approach. It asserts the need to modify our anthropocentric view of life and of reality in a general sense, and within its characteristic non-dualist type of ontology, greater importance is given to relationships than to entities. As in non-representational theories, it aims to go beyond the understanding of reality exclusively from logocentric models. In this way, these theoretical perspectives afford not only a promising field for research in the general re-orientation of the humanities, but also a strong element of social criticism. To what extent can posthumanism be said to imply radical change in how we understand the relationship between individual and collective? On what basis can we affirm the existence of a posthuman condition in today’s world? How can the criticism and overcoming of anthropocentrism be as beneficial for the different humanities disciplines as have been the attempts to overcome ethnocentrism and androcentrism? The raising of this kind of question makes posthumanism not only an ambitious intellectual challenge but also a moral necessity that must be confronted.
Call for papers:
15/05/2018, 23:59 (UTC/GTM +1)
Notification of acceptance of proposals:
01/10/2018, 23:59 (UTC/GTM +1)
- Institución Milá y Fontanals – CSIC, Carrer de les Egipcíaques, 15, 08001 Barcelona
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