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Tomorrow: Intellectuals and the Future of the University – Taras Dobko & Harry Kunneman

  • Date: Thursday, May 5.
  • Time: 19:30-20:30 (20:30-21:30 UAT)
  • YouTube Live: link available here
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Epochal historical crisis challenge intellectuals and universities to reconsider their role en mission in the history of mankind. After all, history and progress are not only the outcome blind processes, but also of idea’s, intellectual discoveries, inventions and mental shifts.

Intellectuals and universities reflect the social histories and societies they are part of, but they also shape these societies and histories – for the good or the bad. Epochal historical crisis in the 20th century urged Marx Weber, to write his Wissenschaft als Beruf (1919). It inspired Julien Benda to his The Treason of the Intellectuals and Martin Heidegger to his notorious Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität (1933). Karl Mannheim coined in his Ideologie und Utopie (1929) the intellectual as ‘free floating intelligence’ and Theodore Adorno and Max Horkeimer declared in their Dialectics of Enlightenment (1948) the bankruptcy of the idea of reason itself. Without much effort we can extend this list to the present day. The challenge is always the same: considering the crisis, what should be the role of the intellectuals? How should universities mould this collective intellectual effort and research to overcome the crisis for the good of mankind?

The war in Ukraine provokes again these questions. Should this war indeed be considered as such an epochal historical crisis? (And what about other crisis like climate change?) Suppose the answer is ‘yes’: what are the responsibilities of intellectuals today? How can universities in Ukraine and Europe jointly give direction to these responsibilities?

We discuss these big questions with Taras Dobko and Harry Kunneman who both have an extensive experience in dealing with these questions in a theoretical and practical way. Taras Dobko is associate professor of philosophy and senior vice-rector at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Taras Dobko has been part of the Consortium of Ukrainian Universities, promoting university autonomy for the development of civil society. Harry Kunneman is emiritus professor of social philosophy and former rector of the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht. The life’s work of Harry Kunneman is developing a critical philosophy, which helps to diagnose existential, moral and social shortcomings of the late modern, neoliberal society. A social philosophy which invites to less destructive and more promising dealings with the self and the world.

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