Symposium: Socrates, Wittgenstein, Freud and the Liberating Power of Philosophy (22nd of Nov, Helsinki)

How philosophers search for truth without finding it, and what the search is good for Socrates, Wittgenstein, Freud and the liberating power of philosophy.

A public symposium with

Prof. James Conant (University of Chicago) and
Prof. Mladen Dolar (University of Ljubljana / Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht)

at the University of Helsinki on November 22nd, 2011, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Venue: Siltavuorenpenger/Brobergsterassen 3 A, SH302.

10.15 Opening remarks: Thomas Wallgren, Fellow, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies
10.3012.30 Prof. James Conant “Socratic Aspects of Wittgenstein”
Lunch break
14.00 – 16.00 Prof. Mladen Dolar “Socrates’ Voice: From Socrates to Psychoanalysis”

Socrates and Wittgenstein are the strangest of heroes in our philosophical canon. Both entertained an everyday idiom and were sure that they would be understood only by a few. Both sought for friendship through philosophy and both were certain that they would be rejected and even despised by many. Both claimed that philosophy of the most ambitious kind that we may conceive of does not deliver new truths. Both practised philosophy as polyphonic dialogue about the meaning of the concepts that shape us. Both thought that their radical practice may serve wisdom better than any other kind of search for knowledge or truth.

The crisis of ecology and development and the demise of high modernity and of any naive progressivism has made critical reflection on the promise that “truth shall make us free” a major topic in the cultural conversation of our times. In philosophy the self-criticism of enlightenment optimism has a long history, going back to Greek Enlightenment with variations of a pragmatic turn and a postmodern / postcolonial critique as main templates in current debates.

In this symposium we consider the nature of Socrates’ and Wittgenstein’s radical notions of philosophical method and the aims of philosophy and of Freud’s conception of therapeutic dialogue in the context of the ongoing debates in philosophy and beyond about the fate of enlightenment optimism in our times.

James Conant has pioneered the therapeutic interpretation of Wittgenstein and is also an expert on contemporary analytic philosophy and 18th and 19th century European philosophy. He teaches at the University of Chicago.

Mladen Dolar integrates theoretical resources derived from Hegel, Lacan, Wittgenstein and others in work that combines systematic philosophical analysis with contemporary cultural and social criticism. His acclaimed book A Voice and Nothing More was published in 2006.

The seminar is organised by the Academy of Finland Research Project “A Science of the Soul: Wittgenstein, Freud and Neuroscience in Dialogue.”

Thomas Wallgren:
Joel Backström:
Hannes Nykänen:
Niklas Toivakainen:

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