Invitation to the conference Our common present 2016
Great expectations, projects and mistakes – efforts to understand and control nature in the past and the present
The Conference will take place at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University,
Prague 1, square Jana Palacha 2, room 104 (see map), 1st April 2016
People have for ages been trying to deal with the unpredictability of nature and at the same time causing it through their interventions. They have always longed to transform the environment, society, or even man as such; they have strived to harness the forces of nature or prevent unpredictable risks. Attempts to interfere with nature or engineer human beings and their social or economic relationships have often been (self) destructive due to misunderstandings over fundamental internal principles. The boundary between what is based on dreams or mere illusion, and appropriate plans and processes, is almost indistinguishable – the real benefits or, conversely, major risks, usually become apparent after only a long time. Desired progress and unintended disaster are often two sides of the same coin. And so even in a fully responsible and scientifically sound relationship with nature we can observe an indistinct dividing line between the possible and the impossible, reality and fiction, which is easy to regularly transgress by technical means.
In this sense, we are looking for lessons from the past, but at the same time trying to look into the future – we see big (and small), often utopian plans for social or technical development, and artistic achievement. We attempt to map the dead ends that people have tried in the past and those into which they are now wanting to enter. We consider it a way of learning more about the relationship between man and nature. At the same time, we have numerous questions that directly affect us. In what we can hope for today, what we should worry about, where are we probably heading? And how (and what) we will report back to those who come after us –will they live in a world built on our ideas and decisions?