Fact, Facticity, Reality: Phenomenological Perspectives | Conference of the German Phenomenological Society (DGPF)

18.09.2019 - 21.09.2019

NIG (Neues Institutsgebäude) | Universitätsstr. 7, 1010 Vienna

According to the critical assessment linked to the concept of the “post-factual”, we live in an age in which scientific insights and facts are increasingly replaced by “felt truths” and “alternative facts”. At the same time, in the course of the onward process of digitalization and the spread of new information technologies, we witness a broad social development towards a reign of the factually given in the sense of naked data (Big Data), which seem to subject social life to an extensive calculability and algorithmization, apart from all anchorage in the lifeworld.

In view of this ambivalent and tenuous social situation in the context of the present “truth crisis”, the conference canvasses the productive potential of phenomenological approaches for questions of the given and the factual, as well as of facticity and reality. Thereby, the focal problem is the relation between scientific facts, socio-political realities and cultural lifeworlds – a problem that becomes more and more urgent in the course of the globalization of information flows concomitant with increased intercultural intertwinings.

Indeed, these questions constitute core areas of phenomenological research. For in its entire history – from Husserl’s maxim of “going back to the things themselves” and his critique of positivism and psychologism, via Heidegger’s dissociation of truth as aletheia from all forms of factual veracity and his analysis of the “thing”, Arendt’s reflections on politics and truth, and Levinas’s thesis of the prevalence of justice before objectivity, through to Marion’s analyses of the given and Waldenfels’s thinking of the “ruptures of experience” – questions of the given, the factual and facticity, of evidence, objectivity and reality prove to be phenomenological basic problems. Thereby, not only phenomenology’s descriptive method, but also its critical, unfolding, and opening potential comes to the fore.

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The conference offers a platform for rereading those and other phenomenological approaches from the perspective of the present and for making them productive for scientific, social, and political problematics. For this purpose, four thematic subdivisions are proposed. Firstly, the conference invites systematic and historical phenomenological studies in which the topical concepts are contoured, reconstructed, and problematized in the works of older and newer phenomenological classics. Secondly, there is space for contributions that encourage the dialogue between phenomenology and other important philosophical traditions, such as New Realism, Analytic Philosophy, and Poststructuralism, in view of the problem area of facts, facticity, and reality. Thirdly, phenomenologically grounded interdisciplinary studies are invited (relating to psychology, cognitive science, political science, sociology, and history of science) that focalize the topic on the specific objectives of those disciplines. Fourthly, the phenomenological perspectives on the complex of problems of facts, facticity, and reality are also to be opened interculturally, thereby including approaches from intercultural philosophy and postcolonial theory in order to add to the debate also global and transformative problematics.