Values. Continuity and Changes

La Filosofia, il Castello e la Torre – Ischia International Festival of Philosophy and Summer School of Humanities 2017 

The Cultural Association InSophia, together with the International Center for Philosophical Research of Palermo (CRF), University of Toronto, Mississauga (Dep. Visual Arts) and the cultural association NapoliFilosofica, backed by the Association G. Sadoul, the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, the University of Palermo and FISP (International Federation of philosophical Societies) proudly announce the third edition of the Ischia International Festival of Philosophy 2017 – “La Filosofia, il Castello e la Torre.” The festival will take place in Ischia, the largest and many say most beautiful island in the Gulf of Naples, from the 23th of September to the 1nd of October. Its main locations will be the Aragonese Castle and the Guevara Tower, surrounded by the green sea of Ischia Ponte and the wonderful Garden “La Mortella.”

3rd Edition: Values – Continuity and Change: 23rd September – 1st October 2017

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1, Paris, 1948)

“Lupus est homo homini.” (Plautus, Asinaria)

The Good, Beauty, Truth, Justice, Equality, Freedom, Power, Safety, Dignity, Brotherhood: these concepts are the focus of the new edition of “La Filosofia, il Castello e la Torre – Ischia International Festival of Philosophy 2017.” Last year’s topic was Relations-Mediations, and it seems only natural to go on focusing on the topic of Values, an essential aspect of relations.

“Value” is the nexus between theory and praxis; it is what allows one to recognize the continuity or discontinuity between them. As a result it is also one of the core questions of philosophy: especially now, with the demographic and technological revolutions reshaping our society, we need to rethink the values that are guiding our practical and moral lives. We need to discuss the power of philosophy and theory to actually contribute to the public sphere, especially in a multicultural and highly diversified setting. Our main concern is the disparity between theory and actuality: we have models and values, but can we say that these values are fully effective today in the realm of the social?

One often considers values to be universal truths. Yet today we increasingly feel an urge to focus on our ability to share the public space and to accept values different than our own. Values can be endorsed by institutions, parties, spiritual leaders and by individuals, by all of us. Values bring us together, and they also threaten to separate us in the antagonisms that they nevertheless generate. Values provide us with a sense of belonging, and yet they can also justify the hatred we might feel for our enemies. Values, in other words, play a paradoxical role in our existence. Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves whether values are actual guidelines for the lives we lead, or whether they are merely the excuses we adopt in order to justify our actions in the world.

So, we want to know: what is the meaning of our constant struggle around values? Today, in the age of social media, our urge to fight for what we believe to be true and just has become even more evident. We need approval, and therefore we decide to endorse or to reject values: but what are values?

Without values there would be no culture, no language, no civilisation. Values are our totems; they are the keywords that shape our collective and individual identities. And yet, we also feel the need to find (or create) new values, values that can guide us in a new era, with new problems and challenges.

The ultimate question is: what is the value of values? Every person, every culture represents a value that has to be recognized and preserved. Preserving the value of values means first of all to recognize the need to accept and welcome difference.

After the advent of Nihilism in our culture, our relationship with values has become even more complex. Shall we evaluate or trans-evaluate? What kind of contribution can we give as philosophers to the contemporary public debate?