The congress is dedicated to the topics of truth, goodness, and beauty. Both with regard to their unity and their intersections.
The True, the Good, and the Beautiful – Intersections
Usually we distinguish today between »theoretical«, and »practical« philosophy. Whereas theoretical philosophy is concerned with being, the mind, knowledge, language, logic etc., practical philosophy asks about the good life, morality, the justice of institutions and so on. That is at least what is taught in many introductory courses. Alas, this way of carving up philosophy is an impediment to noticing philosophical questions, which have, in recent years, received more and more attention, questions about the nature of – theoretical and practical – beliefs, facts, knowledge, statements, reasons, values, norms etc. Does the question of what we should believe, for instance, belong to theoretical philosophy (because it is concerned with belief) or to practical philosophy (because it is concerned with a should)? Is the question about the objectivity of values a question of theoretical philosophy (because it is about objectivity) or a question of practical philosophy (because it is about values)? The conference »The True, the Good, and the Beautiful« will focus on questions at the intersection of theoretical and practical philosophy – and therefore, maybe, on questions in the centre of philosophy in general.
Therefore, in particular, the conference will highlight the various relations between truth, goodness and beauty: What is, for instance, the relation between truth and goodness when it comes to the formation of beliefs? Should we, as far as it is possible, believe what is the case (i.e. true)? Or should we rather believe what is good for us – whether it is the case or not? And is there truth with respect to goodness (and with respect to ought)? Are there, for example, (objectively) true value judgements (as well as objectively valid moral requirements and prohibitions)? If so, what does »true« applied to the good mean here? Likewise, what is the relation between the good and the beautiful? Should the good life be led with a view to aesthetic ideals? And does art aim at beauty? Or at moral education? What is the relation between both aims? Finally, what is the relation between truth and beauty? Is there truth when it comes to beauty? And if so: what kind of truth? Is this, maybe, a »relative truth«? Is art concerned with truth? And does beauty, maybe, play a central role in the (natural) sciences?
The True, the Good, and the Beautiful – Unity
Questions about the true, the good and the beautiful are at the centre of philosophy. But they are of huge importance outside philosophy as well: in the context of the natural sciences, but mainly for all people who expect philosophy to provide an orientation in life. For the natural sciences, the clarification of aims – truth, understanding, utility, morality, beauty – is central. What is it that scientists should look for? Should they try to find true theories? Or beautiful ones? Are there moral limitations to scientific research, is the quest for truth, therefore, confined by other values? What is the value of truth and how do we have to balance it with respect to other values?
For society – for institutions as well as for individuals –, on the other hand, it is of fundamental importance to have a comprehensive as well as an integrated conception of the world. In the end, philosophy should provide this orientation at the highest level for a good life. The three key concepts of the conference characterize the aims of human beings as rational animals: As thinking beings we aim at truth, as feeling beings at beauty (or at pleasure in general), as agents at the good. Answering the questions about the true, the good and the beautiful, is pivotal when it comes to giving a general orientation in life.
Hence, with its key theme the conference aims at current topics at the centre of philosophical research at the one hand. On the other hand, it addresses the bigger tasks philosophy has in science and society. This double aim is represented in the different parts of the programme: In 15 colloquia there will be approx. 50 invited talks by internationally prominent philosophers, mainly related to the topics at the intersection of the true, the good and the beautiful; in 4 forums there will be discussions with experts on topics related to philosophy as an academic subject; in 40 sections there will be approx. 250 talks (invited by a call for papers) from virtually all fields and periods of philosophy; to round off the programme, there will be events aiming at a larger public audience: two round table discussions, a photo exhibition, an opening address and a public lecture at the end of the conference, as well as a philosophical cabaret show.