Past Event

How can the humanities help a world in crisis?

November 1, 2023
7:15 PM - 8:30 PM
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East Gallery, Maison Française, Buell Hall

A Conversation with Frédéric Worms, Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Clémence Boulouque, moderated by Emmanuel Kattan. 

Recent years have seen an increasing concern about the decline of the humanities.  The number of PhDs in history,  philosophy, art history, and literature continues to decrease. However, the humanities continue to play an important role in our universities. They help students learn how to structure their knowledge and think about the world differently.  Can the humanities also help us figure out how to address the multiple crises we currently face? Can they give us better tools for understanding social injustice, economic insecurity, threats to our ecology and our health, or risks associated with artificial intelligence?  Can they provide a sense of peace of comfort?  And finally, can they provide tools for confronting the new dilemmas we now face? 

We have invited a panel of eminent thinkers to share their reflections on these broad questions.

Frédéric Worms is professor of contemporary philosophy at the École normale supérieure (ENS) in Paris. Among his recent publications are Vivre en temps réel (2021), Le Vivable et l’invivable (with Judith Butler, 2021), Sidération et résistance: Face à l'événement (2015-2020) (2020), and Pour un humanisme vital: Lettres sur la vie, la mort, le moment présent (2019).

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is Professor of French and Philosophy at Columbia.  His field of research includes history of logic, history of philosophy, Islamic philosophy, African philosophy and literature.  He has won a number of prestigious prizes including the Dagnan-Bouveret prize awarded by the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences for one of his books, Bergson postcolonial. L’élan vital dans la pensée de Senghor et de Mohamed Iqbal, and the Edouard Glissant Prize for his work. 

Clémence Boulouque is the Carl and Bernice Witten Associate Professor in Jewish and Israel studies. Her books include Another Modernity: Elia Benamozegh's Jewish Universalism  and Nos Apocalypses: ce qui nous lit quand le mal nous frappe. Her interests include Jewish thought and mysticism, interreligious encounters, intellectual history and networks with a focus on the modern Mediterranean and Sefardi worlds, as well as the intersection between religion and the arts, and the study of the unconscious.

This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française and the Alliance Program.