Lugano, May 15 2008 – Is truth absolute, or do we decide what is true based on culture, knowledge and our belief system? These engaging questions are the subject of the 2008 Symposium of the International Balzan Foundation, entitled: “Truth in the Humanities, Science and Religion”. This prestigious event will be taking place on May 16-17, 2008 in the Auditorium of the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano (Switzerland).

The Symposium, attended by scholars with various scientific and religious backgrounds, will address these and many other related questions. The perspectives of philosophy, religion, mathematics, cosmology, life sciences, history and sociology will be represented. The outcome will be a new dialogue which will lead to a better mutual understanding of what are all too often seen as irreconcilable points of view.

The question of what we mean by “the truth” is central to many areas of contemporary debate, between those who seek fundamental truth in religious texts and those who subscribe to a post-enlightenment view of the world as well as between those who believe that there are absolute truths and those who believe facts to be social constructs.

The Symposium, which tackles a whole range of key contemporary issues, is divided into five sessions:
Philosophy; Mathematics – Physics – Cosmology; Biology – Biodiversity – Sustainability; History – Social Sciences; Theology – Religion.

The proceedings with begin with welcome addresses by the Mayor of Lugano Giorgio Giudici, the President of the ‘Università della Svizzera Italiana Piero Martinoli and by the President of the International Balzan Prize Foundation Bruno Bottai. The event will then 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.

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).

“Truth in the Sciences and Religion” was organized by the International Balzan Foundation, with the aid of an ad hoc commission chaired by Professor Werner Stauffacher (a member of the General Committee of the Balzan Prize) and the patronage of the City of Lugano and the City of Milan.
The International Balzan Foundation promotes debates in the Sciences and the Humanities by organizing symposia dedicated to important scientific and cultural themes. These symposia are made possible thanks to the participation of Balzan prize winners, scholars and academics from all over the world. Previous symposia include the 1988 meeting held in Venice entitled “Challenges of Bioethics”. In 2002, a symposium entitled “Meeting the Challenges of the Future: A Discussion Between ‘Two Cultures'” was held at the Royal Society in London. The 2008 Balzan Symposium will be held at the l’Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano, and will focus on: “Truth”.

The International Balzan Foundation is an Italian-Swiss foundation which was created in order to promote culture, science and humanitarian initiatives. Each year, prizes are given out to scholars the world over to honor their contributions in the Humanities and in the Sciences. Balzan has recently given out its 100th award. The Foundation has two main headquarters, one in Milan and one in Lugano. The Balzan Prize, through its General Prize Committee, which is European in composition, chooses which areas to award with prizes while the Balzan “Fund” administers the financial legacy of Eugenio Balzan.


Contact International Balzan Foundation:
Fondazione Internazionale Balzan “Premio”
piazzetta U. Giordano 4
20122 Milano, Italia
T +39 7600 2212
E [email protected]

Press Contact:
PR&D Public Relations for Research & Education
Campus Vienna Biocenter 2
1030 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 505 70 44
E [email protected]
W http://www.prd.at

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