Truth, Science & Religion: The International Balzan Foundation Symposium

April 9, 2008

Vienna, 9. April 2008. Is truth absolute, or do we decide what is true based on culture, knowledge and belief? These engaging questions are the subject of the 2008 Symposium of the International Balzan Foundation, which is being held under the title: “Truth in the Humanities, Science and Religion”. This prestigious event will be taking place from 16 to 17 May 2008 at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano (Switzerland).

The Symposium, which tackles a whole range of key contemporary issues, is divided into five sessions:

Mathematics – Physics – Cosmology,
Biology – Biodiversity – Sustainability,
History – Social Sciences,
Theology – Religion.

The event will begin with a keynote lecture on “Truth and Ourselves: the Elusive Last Word” by Prof. Simon Blackburn from the University of Cambridge.

During the five forums that follow, speakers with prestigious international reputations in their disciplines will debate a range of issues related to truth in the humanities, sciences and religion. These speakers will include:

GEORGES MARIE MARTIN CARDINAL COTTIER (Switzerland) – Pro-theologian Emeritus of the Pontifical Household, Vatican.

LORD REES OF LUDLOW (United Kingdom) – 1989 Balzan Prize for High Energy Astrophysics, President of the Royal Society London, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge.

EMANUELE SEVERINO (Italy) – Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, corresponding member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Professor of Fundamental Ontology at the Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan.

YURI MANIN (Russia/Germany) – Professor of Mathematics, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, Trustee, Chair and Professor of Mathematics, Northwestern University.

QUENTIN SKINNER (United Kingdom) – 2006 Balzan Prize for Political Thought; History and Theory, Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome.

REINHARD GENZEL (Germany) – 2003 Balzan Prize for Infrared Astronomy, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and Member of the Scientific Board of the Max Planck Society, Member of the Board of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Full Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley.

MOHAMMED ARKOUN (France) – Professor Emeritus, La Sorbonne, Paris, Senior Research Fellow and Member of the Board of Governors, The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) , London.

N.B. A list of all other speakers taking part in the Symposium can be found online, at the Link cited above.

Lord Krebs (University of Oxford and Member of the General Prize Committee) and Prof. Simon Blackburn (University of Cambridge) will speak as part of a concluding session chaired by Enrico Decleva (Member of the Board of the International Balzan “Prize” Foundation). The Symposium will be concluded with closing remarks by Bruno Bottai (Chairman of the Board of the International Balzan “Prize” Foundation) and Achille Casanova (Chairman of the Board of the International Balzan “Fund” Foundation).

Each year, the International Balzan Foundation awards four science prizes – two for humanities, social sciences and art, and two for physics, mathematics, natural sciences and medicine. Unlike the Nobel Prize committee, the International Balzan Foundation prize committee picks new award topics each year, so as to raise the profile of research areas that would otherwise receive little attention. As well as the science prizes, the foundation also awards a separate special prize for humanity and peace every three to five years, most recently in 2007. The Foundation also promotes interdisciplinary debate between science and the humanities by organising Symposia where holders of Balzan prizes debate key issues in science and culture. The foundation is a worldwide organisation and has two branches – the Balzan “Prize” Foundation in Milan and the Balzan “Fund” Foundation in Zurich. The Balzan Foundation was set up in 1957 by Angela Lina Balzan in memory of her father Eugenio Balzan, who was a co-owner of the Italian daily “Corriere della Sera” and who moved to Switzerland in 1933.

Registration and the complete program with all speakers:

Press contact:
PR&D Public Relations für Forschung & Bildung
Campus Vienna Biocenter 2
1030 Vienna
T +43 / 1 / 505 70 44

One Response to Truth, Science & Religion: The International Balzan Foundation Symposium

  1. Renaisauce April 9, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    “EMANUELE SEVERINO (Italy) – Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Philosophy”

    I may be the last one to know that there’s an entire subfield of philosophy that’s purely theoretical, but I’ll be the first to jump on that bandwagon. I have no idea what he must spend his time thinking about, but I’ll venture a guess that no one else really understands it (although no one actually exists, in theory).

    Is there an Experimental Philosophy? Because that would be even better. How would you design a procedure to test whether or not Art is Truth? Would it be good enough if the results were merely statistically significant?

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