Science and mysticism in turn-of-the-century German culture
The project “Science and mysticism in turn-of-the-century German culture” is concerned with seeking a series of responses to questions on the blending of science and mysticism, a distinctive aspect of German culture in the second half of the 19th century. What meaning did the dialectic of science and mysticism have for the development of art, literature and philosophy in Germany? What influence did that dialectic exert on the development of 20th century philosophy and theology? Why did this relevant turn-of-the-century German and European tendency become almost completely forgotten?
The great debate, at times surprising, at times controversial, but up until today for the most part unexplored, which developed in Europe in the fifty years spanning the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries was on the one hand concerned with defining the purpose and borders of scientific thought and, on the other, exploring the sense and possibility of a rebirth of mysticism in the nihilistic age. Not infrequently the debate proved difficult when not impossible. In certain cases, however, the confrontation between the representatives of the two currents of thought brought about extraordinary results, which would prove to have long-lasting meaning for art, literature and German and European culture.
The blending of science and mysticism is a distinctive trait of German and European culture in the second half of the 19th century and this mésalliance (never questioned) bore fruit that early on aroused the interest of philosophy and literature.
The object of the research conference is bringing to light, investigating and critically considering a relevant but hidden dimension of European culture. From this perspective the investigation of the numerous subtle relations that tie the many masterpieces of German literature and culture to this dimension is important, illustrating the transformations that it recognizes in 20th century philosophy, science and theology.
After the first plenary session, the project will be developed in the form of seminars held at the Institute of German Studies by groups of two-to-four researchers who will present to a restricted public of doctoral students (indicated by different schools of Italian PhDs), post-doctoral students, teachers in training, young scholars (invited as discussants), the results of research on single themes defined in the first organizational conference and developed in the researchers’ respective institutions (contact between scholars involved in homogenous fields may be held online or through intermediate meetings). Two to three seminars are foreseen per year.
The seminars will have an open structure. The principle speakers will present the results of their research and the discussants, who will have previously received the texts to be presented and will have been chosen from among the qualified participants at the research conference (teachers, doctoral students, post-doctoral students, etc.), will critically interact or present their own talks.