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What can the humanities contribute to our practical self-understanding?

Final conference: What is it to be human?

Final conference: What is it to be human?

The final conference of the project will take place 19-20 April in Utrecht.

The keynote speakers are Carola Dietze (Gießen), Denis Noble (Oxford), Onora O’Neill (Cambridge), Helen Small (Oxford), Martin Stokhof (Amsterdam), and Kenneth Westphal (Istanbul).

Conference theme

The future of the humanities is regularly questioned. What should the place and function of the humanities be within the university and in the world outside the university? What distinguishes them from the social sciences and the natural sciences? What kind of knowledge do they offer us? The aim of the conference is to explore one specific answer to these questions: the humanities are important because they contribute to our practical self-understanding. By ‘practical self-understanding’ we refer to the reflective capacity of human beings to integrate the diverse ways in which we can think about ourselves into a perspective that is able to offer us meaningful orientation and normative guidance in our lives and in the world.

Human beings constitute the research subject of many different disciplines. The natural sciences study the human body and the physical basis of human behavior and mental activity. The social sciences identify regularities in individual and social behavior. The humanities are characteristically understood as those disciplines that study human beings in their linguistic, artistic, historical, and religious expressions and manifestations. In addition, there are normative disciplines like ethics and law that see human beings as agents with responsibility or dignity. How do these different perspectives relate to each other? Can we bring this diversity into a consistent whole? If not, how else should we deal with it?

In this conference, we will investigate how these diverse perspectives on what it means to be human interact with each other, and ask which role the humanities could play in the integration of these diverse perspectives, in order to develop forms of practical self-understanding. Researchers and scholars from a variety of disciplines are invited to reflect on this theme: scholars from the whole spectrum of humanistic disciplines, as well as social scientists and natural scientists who are interested in these questions.

Conference programme

The conference programme is available here: Horizon programme booklet.

The conference will last two full days. In addition, there is a pre-conference event on April 18 at 17.00. Prof. Dr. Trudy Dehue will give a public lecture in Dutch. All are welcome; registration is not required. Have a look at the poster for the public lecture!

Practical information

Registration for the conference is now closed. We look forward to welcoming everyone who registered in Utrecht!

If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know via email.

The conference location is wheelchair accessible. If you have another impairment we should take into account (e.g. different mobility impairment, visual impairment, hard of hearing), please specify your support requirements via email. Any information that you provide will be kept private and will not be passed on to anyone without your consent.

Conference location and directions

The conference location is Hotel Mitland in Utrecht, Ariënslaan 1.

Public transport: from Amsterdam Schiphol trains leave for Utrecht Central Station approximately every 15 minutes. From Utrecht Central Station you can take bus number 28 in the direction of ‘De Uithof P+R’ or bus number 77 in the direction of ‘Bilthoven’ (the buses leave from ‘Busstation Centrumzijde’). Departures are every 10 minutes between 7am and 12pm. In both cases, exit at ‘Oorsprongpark’. From here, it is a ten-minute walk. Cross the railway crossing, and take the fourth street to the left (Karel Doormanlaan). Turn the first right to go under the fly-over (Ariënslaan). Mitland Hotel Utrecht is on the right after 50 metres.

For more information on public transport please check 9292.nl.

Taxi UTC: (+31) 30 2300 400