Frankfurt Lectures

May 8 and 9, 2023, both at 6.15 p.m.

How Real is Virtual Reality? (on May 8, 2023)
The Genetic Lottery (on May 9, 2023)

Prof Bruce A. Ackerman (Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale)

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend
Hörsaalzentrum, HZ 5
60323 Frankfurt am Main

The event is open to the public. Admission is free

During the early twentieth century, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty and Einstein Relativity discredited the rigid Newtonian “laws” that had served as the foundation of Enlightenment thought for more than two hundred years. A host of great thinkers and artists have struggled with the larger implications of this shattering scientific redefinition of the very nature of reality. The paintings of Braque and Picasso were efforts to liberate us from Newtonian certainties; so too were the writings of James Joyce and Marcel Proust.
These Lectures will focus on the response of French and German existentialists to the same question. I will be arguing that their ideas provide a crucial resource as we confront the challenges of constructing a meaningful life in a social world transformed by the high-tech revolution.
Most obviously, we are endlessly shifting from face-to-face encounters in the real world to internet encounters in virtual reality. But can the hours we spend  on the internet make it even more difficult to construct a meaningful life for ourselves?
Looking to the future, it will be increasingly possible to create babies through genetic engineering, rather than depending on females to do this work. How should we go about creating the next generation?

In his forthcoming book, The Post-Modern Predicament (Yale University Press), Bruce Ackerman offers realistic alternatives that will enable each of us to take charge of our own lives in the brave new world of the twenty-first century. In attempting a serious effort at systematic reform, Ackerman argues that Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and other leading twentieth-century existentialists can greatly enrich our understanding of the challenges we face in reconstructing the foundations of a liberal democratic society.

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and the author of nineteen books in political philosophy, constitutional law, and public policy. His major works include „Social Justice in the Liberal State“ and his multivolume constitutional history, „We the People.“


Presented by:
Research Centre "Normative Orders" of Goethe University  and Research Initiative "ConTrust – Trust in Conflict. Political Life under Conditions of Uncertainty"


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