VIII Edition: Beauty. Can it really save the world?
Call for Papers
After exploring the question of universes and their multiplicity, of differences, the Ischia and Naples International Festival of Philosophy turns to the subject of beauty.
What is beauty? Can it serve to improve human relations, the condition of our community? Can beauty really save the world?
To ask about beauty involves more than a few complications, especially when the question is posed on an ethical register. It is, after all, something that reaches the subject through the senses. Its perception depends on the worldly conditions in which we “host” a given reality that is foreign to us; it depends on experience.
A work of art, a landscape, a sensation, the body of a living being—all may express beauty, leaving the question of whether they do to the judgement of others. It depends on pleasure, on a chemical reaction that beauty activates inside us.
It is a predicate, a medium for the creation of a real identity between a range of different ideal concepts, and as such it is always able to adapt itself differently to the present moment, to fashion, to the cultural currents that carry it. But beauty also puts a number of subjects at odds. In ancient philosophy the concept of kalokagathia best represented this ethical disagreement: that which is beautiful is not always good.
Does beauty exist without human beings? And if so, how many kinds of beauty exist inside and outside us? As if in response to this question, human beings have tried to contain beauty, to create it: just think of artistic production, of the manipulation of matter, of objects; beauty is perceived in all forms and all domains of human knowledge, from philosophy to mathematics, from art to physics; it passes through the concepts of symmetry, harmony. But when does it become really good?
Is it true that beauty has no cognitive value? Even so, when it is “translated” into something else, it is recognized as a means of practical expression for concepts that are difficult to understand: beauty “becomes” goodness, truth, virtue, the common good.
Everything we create attends to this aesthetic dimension so apt to arouse admiration in us, reaching the ethical dimension to the extent that it unites and adds shared value to experience itself. What then is the feeling that emanates from it towards the human, towards that feeling that unites us under the sign of a common destiny?
Beauty, fleeting, is expressed in the human will to capture it in works, in artifacts. Perhaps it resonates with the feeling of transience in our existence: when it abandons us, it causes us anguish. And for this reason human beings pursue, find – even idealize – beauty everywhere, even in its opposite, trying to ferry it from the subjective to the objective sphere. It becomes an expression of peace in contemplation, but even more, of an internal “war” because it obsesses those who want to represent it, produce it. It is universal only because it is perceivable by all human beings.
In light of these questions – addressed to the history of human thought – what is the value of beauty in a world that paradoxically pursues it as a subjective common good? If it is an expression of a common good and can be translated as such, activating in us a saving motion towards the world, how can we redefine it? How can we share the eschatological tension it contains and expresses? If nature has always been an expression of beauty, why then do we dominate it by making it ugly, destroying our one and only home to earn Dante’s hell? Is it possible that the ideality that beauty expresses – and that it has always expressed – has led us away from the real world?
Beauty is a Common Good: something that expresses sharing in existence and beyond it. Can knowledge intervene in the aesthetic domain, connecting the subjective sphere to the objective one? Can the world – understood as a global community – save beauty?
Areas of Intervention
The festival opens the discussion of Beauty to all branches of knowledge, from philosophy to psychology, from art history to biology and physics. All proposals that make a reflective and critically engaged contribution that is consistent with the Call for Papers will be taken into consideration for the conference sessions (which will take place in Ischia from 22 to 25 September 2022). The ability to communicate research-based knowledge to all is essential for being selected. Below are the subject areas to which proposals should be addressed:
- Ancient, Modern & Contemporary Philosophy. What is beauty? The ontological question of beauty and its conceptual genesis. Kalokagathia. Human beings, beautiful and good. What is ugliness? Subjective and objective. West versus East: philosophical principles in comparison.
- Philosophy & History of Religions. Investigations of the historical-cultural differences in the canons that have historically defined beauty, and the ones that define it today. Beauty in the service of religions and cults. Beauty as a vehicle for achieving moral virtue. The split between ideal and real.
- Science & Philosophy of Science. Science and philosophy in dialogue. The beauty of scientific discoveries and achievements. The other beauty, the one that can save the world from perverse and selfish human actions. The biological and physical principles of beauty. The pandemic: old and new scenarios of an “ugly” world.
- History, Philosophy of History & History of Science. Historical developments of so-called virtuous human events and possible stages of evolution. The concept of the apogee and decay of “civilizations,” the nostalgia for better times. Magnificent and ugly acts committed by human beings.
- Literature & Art. Eschatologies and visions of human existence from narrative perspectives on self and other in works of art. Beauty standards. The beauty of nature. The deceptions of beauty. Beauty as “fluid standard” beyond the dichotomy of male-female. Poetry: the objects of human inspiration. Women subjected to beauty? Comparison of aesthetics and ethics in the artistic sphere. Myth and beauty.
- Psychology. Beauty as a passe-partout for society: the individual and its relationship with the body, with its own image amidst convention and aesthetic stereotypes. Healthcare as “absolute beauty.” Pathology and addictions caused by the image: psychology, psychotherapy and neuroscience in comparison.
- Political Philosophy & Anthropology. Ontological and epistemological pluralism. The beauty of glocal particularism. Globalization as the destruction of beauty? Democracy as a form of ethical beauty. Beyond anthropocentrism: beauty without the human.
- Pedagogies. Good citizenship: being beautiful, being good. The institutional task of training new generations and the expansion of curricula to meet the needs of contemporary society: humanities, ethics, ecology, civic and political education.
- Ecology & economy. The law of the strongest: beautiful and rich, ugly and poor. The purchasing power of the human and the beauty of individual affirmation. Ethics and economics: social equality? Ecology versus economics: consumerism, self-centeredness and ethical fictions in international marketing.
- Architecture & Design. Architectural and urban beauty, between global mainstream and aesthetics of sharing. “Eutopias” and the politics of beauty. Design: aestheticization of commodities and formal obsolescence. The “sex appeal of the inorganic”: between fashion and consumption. Diverging aesthetics: kitsch and camp between architecture and design.
- Cinema & the Visual Arts. The concept of beauty in cinematic and artistic works. The relation between cinema, art and philosophy. The ethical capacity of beauty in the subjective visions of directors and screenwriters acclaimed by critics around the world. We are also interested in the problems of thinking about beauty in relation to moving image media, which are difficult to disentangle from more traditional art forms like painting, sculpture and dance, to name a few. Likewise, the philosophy of film increasingly addresses the image in general terms. Attempts are made, more than ever, to define, in ontological terms, classes and types of images. What, then, does it mean to regard beauty in general terms, as something that requires criteria for identification and appreciation?
- Technology, Digital Information & Social Media. Beauty and the useful: new formats and forms. Artificial intelligences, beauty beyond the human. Feeling beauty. Natural and artificial beauty. Division and closeness, social media as the setting of a post-human beauty.
- Non-Conventional Philosophy. An informative engagement aimed at scholars, poets, writers, scientists, and others willing to involve the public in an open and no-filter discussion to be carried out in places both conventional and not.
- Street-Philosophy. Are you a philosopher accustomed to talking about the Mother of All Sciences as Socrates did – in the square, on the street? Send us an abstract.
HOW TO SEND A PROPOSAL
Languages: Italian, English
Please send proposals (maximum 1,000 words) and a brief biographical statement (in the same file) to firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com and to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 16, 2022.
The biographical statement (maximum 10 lines) must be included in the body of the e-mail, in the document of the proposal, or in a separated document. Please send all documents in .doc or .dot format. Please do not send files in .pdf format.
Every speaker will have 30 minutes (including 10 minutes for discussion). Presentations can be held in Italian or in English. It is also possible to propose a full panel: every panel will feature 3 or 4 presentations on a common theme. Every panel must also feature a leader, whose duty is to introduce and guide the discussion. For a panel proposal, please send the abstracts of each individual presentation as well as a brief introduction to the panel (maximum 200 words).
A registration fee will be required. Participants in the Festival will also have access to special rates and recommendations for guest accommodations during the whole week of the event.
Please note that all conference sessions will take place in Ischia, from September the 22nd to the 25th.
For further information please contact the Scientific Director Dr. Raffaele Mirelli at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.Please visit our website (www.lafilosofiailcastellolatorre.it) and Facebook page: La Filosofia, il Castello e la Torre – Instagram: @lafilosofiailcastellolatorre