International Festival of Philosophy
6yh edition: Time
20 - 27 September 2020
Information and program: www.lafilosofiailcastellolatorre.it
Friday 25 September 2020, Chiesa dell'Immacolata, at 20:30
THE INTERVIEW: La scomparsa di mia madre. Benedetta Barzini e Beniamino Barrese.
Saturday 26 September 2020, Chiesa dell'Immacolata, at 20:30
LECTIO MAGISTRALIS: Le figure del tempo. Umberto Galimberti
After the intensive debate on God mounted in 2019, the festival will continue its research activities by focusing—for the sixth edition—on “Time”. The concept will be analysed under the perspective of the ethical relation between humans and the ecosystem as a whole.
Time is a unity of measure, a paradigm for the relationship that defines the beginning and the end of happenings. Or rather, it is an existential measure of human feeling from which the entirety of life seems to gain meaning, providing a distinctly humanistic concept of unity that can be named the event: minutes, hours, years and centuries are all just the units of an imaginary or symbolic dimension, close or distant, on which our existence can be traced, from conception to death. “Further”, “past”, “present” and “future” represent categories that set our actions in a specific order. When biological life is seen under these categories, it becomes recognizable in terms of existence, history and evolution.
When experienced as the unfolding of becoming, existence transforms itself into a temporal unity whose dimensions shape our actions and our choices, serving to appease the despair of the ones who live only in the present, becoming superficial; the ones who only live in the past, becoming nostalgic; and of the ones who live in the future, becoming anxious.
In time, our bodies—seen as an organic, objective matter—also develop, modifying themselves and showing the flow of time through the signs of transformation, through the changing of the organic activities that increase or decrease. In fact, one is called young or old because of the organic activities of the body, which show to the other a peculiar bodily identity imprinted by time, one’s age. The same happens for actions that are ordered in our minds by our brains, the centre of our intellectual activities. When we try to hold our events in time as memories, as collective memories, we give our existence an identity, which should give mankind the chance to dispose itself toward openness or close itself off to becoming.
From this perspective time seems to be effective, necessary and also very important to us. But on the other hand, the conception of infinity—where all these categories, existences, actions and events lose their meaning or at least change it—also takes place in our minds. How, then, can we understand the human necessity of thinking “infinity”?
The idea of ethical relativism puts the concept of time under another perspective, placing humans into seemingly infinite relational transformations, around which all our conceptions of time can be true and absolute. Generations change and so changes the time of our relationships to others. For instance, the major critical descriptors of our historical era—such as the Anthropocene—so often presume that we know what constitutes an era in the first place. This circumstance foregrounds the question of how can we assess and make critical demands, imperatives about our time, if we do not also have in place a complex theory of time. It also compels us to ask what we can do with those theories if we assume that time does not exist at all.
Indeed, if time passes through time, as Derrida claimed in The Politics of Friendship—if there is always more than one time in time—what good could it do to presume that the ills that come to define and take name of our era are both the result of a temporal progression and also temporally homogenous? Likewise, in engaging these epochal ills, must we not also hold a conception of futurity? In imagining more sustainable social, cultural, environmental and economical practices we will need to be more reflective about how we understand the relation of the past to the future, and in that sense, to decide what the contemporary means, or can mean. Time becomes Times and this represents the expression of a plurality—past, present and future—which is essential to our era. But is it right to say—under the contemporary logic of human transformations—that everyone owns his time and should have the right to be the centre of all human activities? Since time is only a human experience limited to this planet, technology seems to be changing human nature itself. Can humans consider themselves the centre of this universe if the universe lets us understand the objectivity of the infinite?
Everything passes, changes in time, inexorably. Will human beings be capable of sharing a common vision, concerning their existences, to improve this space as the only place we have, without falling back to a primitivism because of fanaticism, because of idiocy?
Can the idea of time itself bring us together or is it just an illusion?
How much time do we have left—and how much does our planet still have?