15th Dialogue on Science, October 12 to 14, 2016 Engelberg, Switzerland
Drawing on concrete examples from history, chemistry, ethics, information technology, engineering, medicine, linguistics, philosophy and economics, scientific frontiers have been discussed in the context of modern society.
The discussion began with the assertion that our empathy seeks to eliminate borders, but our fear wants to maintain them. It is between these very antipodes that we reinvent our limits time and time again.
The human condition is defined by contact with boundaries and interfaces with the environment. Those who fail to recognise their limits – or who exceed them – can lose their bearings, their emotional connections and, ultimately, themselves.
Limitless growth and endless fun are associated with a loss of identity; they are self-destructive. But just as we need boundaries, we also need borderline experiences. Attack and defence are just one example of opposites that meet on a fault line.
We place limitations on ourselves in science and sport, when we are in pain, and when we are in love. Cognitive activities such as discovery, attribution of meaning, perception and recognition are all based on patterns, and there are no patterns without boundaries.
Boundaries must be permeable – and this requires the exchange of information. When we place limits on our imaginations, we can no longer indulge in visionary thinking or discover new frontiers.
The Academia Engelberg Foundation’s 15th Dialogue on Science in Engelberg from October 12 to 14, 2016 offered a unique platform for a discussion of boundaries, balancing acts, and their effects on the 21st century.
Participants discussed scientific frontiers in history, chemistry, ethics, information technology, engineering, medicine, linguistics, philosophy and economics, as well as social trends and insights in an aging society.