Philosophy has often been conceived as a discipline whose objects and methods are developed by reason alone, dismissing any empirical or experiential import. However, despite this methodological premise, philosophy has frequently reevaluated its own scope, method, ends, and objects in the face of external challenges. Crises in society can lead to crises within philosophy: concepts and normative principles that were taken for granted suddenly require critical reevaluation and become the center of attention. Concepts and principles that were formerly considered essential may become marginal. A crisis of society is, thus, also a crisis in the way we make sense of the world and of ourselves when older principles, justifications or explanations fail to provide a suitable normative orientation in a new situation. Philosophy must, then, reexamine its societal role, foundation, and limits, as well as amplify its scope and possible applications. History is rich with many such crises that were accompanied by sustained philosophical reflection among the people and meta-philosophical self-reflection among philosophers. Herein philosophy has developed its own social consciousness, which tends to foster a new and original standard of inquiry and societal guidance – until the next crisis.
In this lecture series, we invite influential scholars to discuss philosophical responses to the great crises of our times or to engage with philosophical responses to crises of the past.