Figures of Truth - Criticizing Knowledge in the 20th Century

May, 2018

The workshop’s contributions will investigate different configurations of truth that were developed in the first half of the 20th Century in Europe, as positivism and rationalism were met with growing skepticism. While doubts were being raised about the possibility of establishing objective and incontrovertible truths that could be generally known, acquired and communicated, in the works of many authors knowledge and truth parted ways. Knowledge would then belong to the realm of science; truth, however, to that of philosophy (or: thought) and of literature (or: poetry). But if truth is never entirely demonstrable, if it is revealed suddenly to a single person – how can it be shared with others? Figures of truth reflect in language – with all it nuances and contradictions – this central question in modern thought, testifying for both the expansion of the limits of truth and for its ever growing displacement. Starting from considerations on Martin Heidegger’s conception of truth in his early (Michael Roubach) and later works (Christoph Schmidt, Michael Fagenblat, Kathrin Lagatie), the workshop will then move on to general considerations on truth in science and poetry (Peter Trawny) and finally to the form it took in the works of Martin Buber (Yemima Hadad), the Italian philosopher Carlo Michelstaedter (Mimmo Cangiano) and the Russian thinker Lev Shestov (Chiara Caradonna). Without aspiring to provide a full picture of the different discussions on truth at that time, the workshop wishes to access some of them by ways of their figurative details, all the while posing the question of their actuality.