The 9th International Philosophical Symposium of Miklavž Ocepek

The 11th International Philosophical Conference and Workshop


How to encourage the individual in the apocalypse to make an existential turn towards a new oikonomia of relationships?

In cooperation with Cankarjev dom and Krušče Creative Center.

Krušče and Ljubljana, 9th – 16th of June 2023


Paula Arizpe (MX): On the impossibility of not being Pascalian

The Works of Blaise Pascal have been a source of inspiration ever since were written.

The very interesting fact is that he did not agree with Rene Descartes´ division of res cogitans and res extensa but his life exemplifies perfectly such dichotomy. This paper intends to show:

  1. The esthetics of his pragmatic works
  2. The depth of his spiritual reflection
  3. The Gordian knot tide between the res cogitans and extensa in Arrow´s theorem
  4. The triumphant solution of a good life and its redundant benefits.

Stanislava Chrobáková Repar (SK/SLO): Maps and landscapes of cultural engagement: KUD Apocalypse in Slovenia - 30th anniversary of the gift of self

In my contribution, which will consist of two parts (1. Maps and 2. Landscapes), I will try to remind the Slovenian public that not all that glitters is gold - and vice versa: even what lacks glitter can be " gold". It represents wealth that would even be pardoned by the lucid Srečko Kosovel. Together with the thirty-year-old Josefina K., I will show that the attitude against (independent) culture, but also within it, has spread to such an extent that it has led to the absurdity of civilization: we are destroyed by what defines us. Spiritual impoverishment not only threatens the democratic foundations of modern society, which certainly does not only apply to the Slovenian situation, but also undermines everyone and everything that is still standing (and not flowing - let's say like money). I will present with a complete list of data, but also with cultural comments and with mental derivations, my own and of others, which should come to the forefront of this world today; if not politically mandatory, then at least socially dialogical, since the ethos, reality, beauty and future of this world have been derailed precisely because of the cultural deficiency of man's increasingly far-reaching actions and decisions. The basic question that we must ask ourselves together is: Qualitative leap - yes, but in which direction? Will the Kierkegaardian passionate commitment of a handful of culturalists and thinkers be enough to save life on the blue planet?

Monsterrat Crespín Perales (ESP): The Vanishing Point of the Ethics of Self-realization: A Reappraisal.

In his article “From Seeing to Acting. Rethinking Nishida’s Practical Philosophy” (2009),[2] This being the case, the Nishidian definition of what constitutes a self would help us to understand the ethical and political conceptions that arise from it.

I propose an exploration about how some intrinsic difficulties inherent to Nishida’s epistemology are transferred to his ethical and political viewpoint. His positions about consciousness and subjectivity, objectivity and world (in fact, the elements of “modernity” —subject, world and representation—) are intimately related with a nodal unanswered question, that goes beyond Nishida, but connects him with a disturbing possibility of the ethics of self-realization. Why the ethics of self-realization open a way to philosophically justify a dangerous transition to the submission of the individual and the disappearance of its singularity (its dignity) into an extra-historical system, into a monist whole (be it Nation, Race, Class, etc.) that erases the Other?

Keywords: Self, epistemology, ethics, ethics of self-realization, monism, Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945)

Thomas Diesner (GER): After Apocalypse or the Return of the Repressed

After the apocalypse, how could a new beginning be possible, how could one go on, where an unheard has revealed itself, a crack has teared the flow of time? For Adorno, there was something barbaric about trying to grasp the unspeakable horror of the Second World War, the crimes for which Auschwitz had become an inerasable symbol, in a poem. Paul Celan's Todesfuge, on the other hand, is the testimony of a trauma as well as a struggle for language, and for the writers of Gruppe 47 the crack also necessitated an original act of creation, a renewal of intellectual life. Others saw a line, a border whose crossing had been indicated before and in other contexts. The trauma were already the storms of steel of the First World War; the Second World War only revealed the horror that was yet to come. Was Hitler only a precursor (Amery)? Ernst Jünger's or Martin Heidegger's conservative interpretations of their time and being arose from Waldgang and Holzwege. Where else is freedom, is life, Jünger asks, referring to the disordered, the wilderness?

Heidegger is now part of the philosophical mainstream; does this testify to the power of his jargon or is it a sign of profoundness? Jünger is misused as an ancestor of the new right. Fascinatingly, for both, there was a left and a right reception. Thus, today we have to ask again whether there is an intellectual claim or seductive power and whether the split that was made by the dictum about the other did lead to a repression that is now returning. Lacan speaks of the political as the unconscious. I would like to take up this hint and explore the struggle for language in the presence of a traumatic experience. The question of a return of the repressed tries to reveal motives of thinking which could turn the after into the before of the apocalypse, if remaining unrecognized.

Jelena Djurić (RS): Imagination as a Means of Existential Turn

The cultural and ideological void of the age of global modernization brings the challenge of dealing with motivational problems that pervade the shaping of human identity. The ubiquitous motifs of the human psyche, which are induced by archetypes as forms of the collective unconscious, were considered in comparative religion to be categories of imagination. In this sense, imagination is a means of existential turn, just as the failure of imagination is the cause of demonic despair and feelings of emotional and spiritual isolation. The isolation is the cause of various crisis that engulf individuals and societies, spreading to the entire environment. Healing requires imagining a way out that can hold space for hope.

Keywords: imagination, archetypes, hope, existential turn

Jan Frei (CZ): The “true human life” in Patočka

One of the constant themes of Patočka’s philosophy is the "true human being (or life)". In my paper I want to present and corelate the manifold concepts Patočka uses in describing this "true human life". I also want to show that this stratum of Patočka's thought represents a part of the tradition that goes back to Kierkegaard, Pascal, Augustine or st. Paul.

Miloslav Gudović (SLO): Between the Wager and Hope. An Outline of Pascal's Anthropology

Blaise Pascal's philosophical portrait cannot be properly outlined, not to mention his famous "argument" for the existence of God based on a wager. It is about leaving off the classical pattern of philosophical theology and letting the "gambling" thought. This "game" is not just an intellectual exercise, as it implies an existential stake. At first glance, it may seem that Pascal succumbed to utilitarian logic, but that impression is wrong. In this, we would have to look for an ironic move in Pascal's philosophy. The one who bets on God does not count on a certain result. Deus ex sponsionis actually confirms the primacy of uncertainty. The emphasis is therefore on the game itself, on the encounter between finite man and the living, infinite God. Any possible intellectual search for certain knowledge is a priori included in the non-rational order, with completely different rules. That is why we can read the motif of the wager in Pascal's (te)anthropology as a literary mask for ontological decisionism. The player who bets on God indeed freely decides to accept the game, although he does not decide its final outcome. Instead of the rational power of evidence, Pascal emphasizes the power of hope, with which the "heart" responds to the prevailing uncertainty in the order of grace.

Keywords: Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662), man, God, religious anthropology, wager, hope, grace

Jasna Koteska (MK): Hörkappe: Trauma and the Apocalypse in the Works of Kierkegaard and Freud

The article analyzes the relationship towards trauma and the Apocalypse in the works of Søren Kierkegaard and Sigmund Freud.

Freud invented a medical slang for the ego and he called it “Hörkappe”, meaning “an auditory skull”. Freud spoke of the trauma as having an “acoustic awareness”, and he build his model of the psychic apparatus based on the auditory reflections. For Freud the memory of the trauma is much more a verbal residue and much less visual. Similarly, for Kierkegaard, the trauma is not only connected to the psyche, but also to the body, and the body is a source of suffering. Just as Freud, for Kierkegaard the trauma is connected to hearing and acoustic awareness, and the suffering is connected to the hearing, because in trauma “God is silent”.

In his Repetition (1843), Kierkegaard explains how the language circles around the events of trauma and the Apocalypse. For both Kierkegaard and Freud, the trauma and the Apocalypse exist outside of language. The trauma refigures the linguistic and acoustic frames in which one is embedded. Kierkegaard saw the traumatic individual as someone who cannot remain within the aesthetical and ethical requirements of the language. Similarly, in his Studies on Hysteria (1895), Freud says that humans remember just the sound of the trauma, and less the appearance of the scene which was traumatizing, therefore they cannot explain the trauma in linguistic terms. In his letters to Wilhelm Fliess, Freud often used the metaphor that healing a patient is like a skilled musician playing on the psyche, therefore Freud set up the psychoanalysis as a psychological empire of the ear. For Kierkegaard, trauma generates variety of discourses around it, and the trauma and the Apocalypse are topological holes which cannot be explained, or overcome just with linguistic means.

This article analysis the main similarities, and several important differences, in the notions of trauma and the Apocalypse in the works of Kierkegaard and Freud.

Peter Kondrla (SK): Change and repetition beyond metaphysics

The article is based on the question of a scientific symposium: how to achieve a change in lifestyle at the end of a prolonged apocalyptic century. Several open questions are asked in the lecture. Knowing the goal is a prerequisite for targeted change. We ask ourselves whether we know what the purpose of the existential turn is and whether we know the meaning of existence, which we could set as a goal. Using selected examples (also from philosophical thinking), he shows that change is not a radical change of the journey's goal, but a permanent correction of the vectors leading to the goal. A goal is a value to which value orientation directs us. The correction of value orientations is not based on the previous rational creation of an ideal, the change in value orientations is a reaction to changing environmental conditions and the development of knowledge and experience with this environment.

Nina Petek (SLO): The Philosophy of Solitude: Strategies for a Fulfilled Life in Buddhism

Most philosophical-religious traditions in India are characterised by an inner tension arising from different ways of establishing the relationship and harmony between the transient and the eternal. This tension is at the same time an integral element of human existence, rooted in the intertwining of the two dimensions of his existence, which are torn between matter and spirit: man is a social being, intimately involved in the diverse segments of worldly affairs, but at the same time also a spiritual being, who seeks to live in solitude in his quest for higher knowledge and insights that transcend the material. Different philosophical schools and religious systems in India have developed their own unique »repertoire« of solitary ways of being and related contemplative practices, and the present paper focuses on shedding light on the conceptualisation of different expressions of solitude in Buddhism Theravāda and the ways of being, practices and philosophical discourses in the further development of Buddhism, with a focus on the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Keywords: solitude, Buddhism, contemplation, Theravāda, Kagyu

Milan Petkanič (SK): What is a Man in the Infinite? On Existential Anthropology of Blaise Pascal

The replacement of the geocentric view of the world by a heliocentric one in the age of the Renaissance was an epochal event opening many new horizons. On the other hand, the new worldview, which took away from people the illusion that they live in the center of the universe, must have severely unsettled and shaken the self-confidence of the emerging modern man. The change in the paradigm of the world eventually led to the need to raise the question of man anew. This was attempted in an original way by the brilliant French scientist and religious thinker Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. Pascal, who himself felt a vertigo of existential anxiety from the "eternal silence of infinite spaces", asked himself the fundamental question "what is a man in the infinity?" His question was uttered with full earnestness and emphasis on the meaning of human existence. It is this urgency with which Pascal questions the meaning of human existence that makes him a modern thinker and one of the significant predecessors of existentialism. Precisely this existential dimension of Pascal's anthropology can be considered the key moment for which Pascal's legacy is still living on. And this is also the reason why in my lecture I decided to focus on and emphasize this existential character of Pascal's doctrine of man.

Primož Repar (SLO):The Policy of Love: New Oikonomy of Relationships

This contribution is derived from Kierkegaard's critique of the social structure of modernity, the essence of which is the loss of the spirit, which age is not aware of. This erosion and loss of the original oiconomy of the community leads to brutality and monstrous illusion, the dominance of the demonic. There is a need for an existential turn to the new oikonomy of relationships, since the modern man is alienated from himself and the other by the loss of the spirit. Kierkegaard in the Works of Love also shows the epistemological advantage of love, hope and faith. Questioning of the gift (Derrida, Marion) and the care of the soul (Patočka) complements the beginnings of the new ethics, the ethics of personal responsibility of self-denial love, the ethics of coexistence of everything alive. Therefore, the ultimate philosophical demand is to recapture the Socratic in order to be able to invent a new politics of love as solidarity of the shaken single individuals.

Keywords: Kierkegaard, loss of spirit, politics of love, oikonomia, solidarity of the shaken

Andrzej Słowikowski (POL): The Dialectic of Christian Politics: The Kierkegaard-Maritain Model

This paper suggests that the problem of Christianity’s involvement in the world of politics may be described as taking the form of a dialectic of Christian politics. This means that, though the transcendent essence of Christianity is apolitical, the presence of the Christian message in the immanent world always brings about political consequences and makes Christendom a part of political life. This dialectic is presented with reference to the thought of two key contemporary Christian thinkers: Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). Both recognized the dialectical tension inherent in Christianity, but both found different solutions to this problem. While Kierkegaard denies Christianity any possibility of political involvement, Maritain on the contrary concludes that such involvement is necessary for proper Christian existence in the world. The task of this paper is to find, on the basis of their considerations, a third, positive solution to this dialectic of Christian politics—a model that would demonstrate how the elements of the Christian ideal (transcendence) could be transferred to the temporal world (immanence), morally improving the latter without becoming falsified in it.

Malwina A. Tkacz (POL): Is an apocalypse necessarily a catastrophe? The crisis, the human condition, and the plague in the philosophy of S. Kierkegaard

Philosophy of existence considers life: the individual human existence, as the subject of research and the starting point of philosophical analysis. For representatives of this trend, personal and subjective states become the basis for philosophizing.

A pandemic can also be understood as a phenomenon affecting the individual sphere of the human being - as a phenomenon affecting the human condition, as a crisis, the concept of which is invariably present in the works of S. Kierkegaard, A. Camus, J.-P. Sartre, and many others.

S. Kierkegaard was writing during a time of tremendous upheaval - the reorganization of Europe following the Napoleonic Wars, the rise of nationalism, the growth of the bourgeois, and their influence. How does he understand crisis? Is it a necessary condition, or is it a negative phenomenon? Can it be avoided?

The paper aims to analyze the pandemic from the perspective of S. Kierkegaard's philosophy of existence, to refer to different perspectives on the concept of crisis, and to define a coherent vision of a pandemic as a cultural and existential phenomenon affecting the human condition as well as to provide an answer to the question of how to encourage the individual to take an existential turn towards existential communication.

Luka Trebežnik (SLO): Pascal's logical Christianity between premodern and postmodern conceptions of the act of faith

The lecture will examine the logical character of Christianity as constructed by Blaise Pascal in his fragmentary writings . As such, his view will be placed in a long series of rational arguments for faith, proofs of God, and other examples of high apologetic thinking. This will open up the key question of constellations within the relationship between faith and reason, and thus also the question of the very foundations of rationality, the suitability of the mathematical method for theological debates. Pascal's religious experience, which he commemorates in his Memorial, testifies to the inadequacy of the geometric mind, on the other hand, other passages show extraordinary rational self-confidence in the field of religious truths. Blaise Pascal represents one of the most important examples of the structure of the relationship between faith and reason, as he seems to push both existential ways of relating to reality to their limits, yet from his rather confessional texts it appears that this relationship could possibly reach a kind of balance.

Keywords: Blaise Pascal, apologetics, existentialism, fideism, theodicy

Andrej Ule (SLO): About Apocalyptic threats

I discuss apocalyptic threats to humanity and defend the thesis that the real apocalyptic threat to man lies in the narrowing of human life to bare survival without a spiritual perspective and not in external threats to human existence. This kind of narrowing of human life is not only a human life problem but also means a kind of "disappointment" of nature towards man and the search for possible development paths past him. I believe that the basic way to avoid this threat is to open up to the spiritual reality of life. Opening to the spiritual reality of life involves nurturing original humanity as an ethical and spiritual orientation. Humanity as an ethical and spiritual orientation is an existential or spiritual expression of human universal relevance and living existence, i.e., the ability for a person to find himself in everything he is in a relationship with and to find everything in himself. Opening a person to the spiritual reality of life not only teaches us, people, how we can overcome the narrowing and existential emptying of our lives, but also "teaches" nature and spirit that it is and how it is worth being human, and that there are beings who value this as well they realize, it also gives us hope to avoid the apocalyptic threat to man.

Franci Zore (SLO): What It Means to Know Oneself

The demand for self-knowledge as the foundation of philosophising appears in several places in antiquity. At a certain level, this means an attempt to answer the legitimate starting question “what is human being”, because only from this reflections on the world and the communities in which man lives could be derived. But if this is the “theoretical” moment of philosophising, it turns out that the “practical” aspect is even more important, since philosophy, from its very beginnings, has meant above all a change in the life of the philosophising individual. From this point of view, self-knowledge means the question of what or who the philosopher is in concrete terms, i.e. what he is, what his attitude and character are like, which has an important influence on the individual's decisions and choices, also in “theory” and even more so in “practice”.

Keywords: self-knowledge, ancient philosophy, theory, practice


[2] Berlin, I. (1971), [1958] “Two concepts of liberty”, in Four Essays on Liberty. London, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 134.