October 3, 2023 - October 7, 2023
Department of Philosophy, University of the Basque Country

Avenida de Tolosa 70
San Sebastián

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The Issue of the Uniqueness of HUMANKIND - State of the art in the light of contemporary scientific and philosophical thinking

Under the patronage of UNESCO

SAN SEBASTIÁN (3-7 October 2023) - VENICE (9-10 October 2023)

SAN SEBASTIÁN, Chillida-Leku Museum and UPV/EHU - VENICE, Università Ca'Foscari

Special Session in A Coruña (26 October 2023) 

A Coruña, Fundación Paideia


The XV edition of the biannual International Ontology Congress will aim to define the state of the art on the issue of the uniqueness of humankind with the help of renowned personalities from contemporary scientific disciplines. 


The humanist disposition continues to characterize the reactions we adopt to certain events and the assessment we make of them. Thus, we say that the behavior of this or that despot is inhuman and, on the contrary, whoever defends a general ecological cause such as the need for a rational distribution of water is honored with an international Human Rights Award. Likewise, those who show empathy with animals and rebel against their mistreatment are classified as humanists.

Does this mean unreservedly admitting a kind of irreducible uniqueness of human beings? Contemporary disciplines today force this properly philosophical interrogation: on the one hand, showing the high degree of genetic homology between human beings and certain animal species, or questioning the rigidity of the distinction between human language and animal signal codes; on the other hand, highlighting the impressive achievements of Deep Learning and other forms of artificial intelligence that seem to blur the border between human potential and that of certain machine entities.

The positions that can be adopted with respect to this issue are more diverse when the quantum theory of measurement is considered. Some interpretations seem to partially recover Einsteinian realism (at a certainly high price, thus sacrificing the locality or affirming the multiplicity of worlds) in such a way that the classical theory of knowledge as the adaptation of the human spirit to the environment would continue in force. Other interpretations seem to place man as an essential witness of the phenomena; the human mind is thus considered the ultimate measuring device in a kind of recovery of the Kantian transcendental subject.

In this regard, the words that Arthur Eddington wrote a century ago are significant:

"We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature. We have found a stranger foot-print on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the foot-print. And Lo! it is our own."

Eddington, A. S. (1920). Space, Time and Gravitation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 201.

Five thematic sections will be organized in which the issue of the uniqueness of humankind will be contemplated from anthropological and historicist perspectives, considering the debates on the role of human beings within the different civilizations and throughout their evolution:

1. Artificial intelligence and human intelligence

      a. What can and cannot be expected from the quantum computer?
      b. Artificial intelligence and artificial life
      c. The question of the legal status of machine entities

2. Animal condition and human nature: state of the art

      a. Legal status of animals
      b. Human language and animal signal codes

3. Human intelligence and the Kantian question of the tripartition of reason

4. Debate on the human singularity in the history of ideas

5. The quantum measurement problem and the place of (human) consciousness in Physics

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May 31, 2023, 12:00pm CET

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