Cities as epitomes of happiness and external perfection?
Thursday, 13. September 2012
Thursday, 13. September 2012
Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi (um 870 bis 950 n.Chr.)
In his opening speech Klaus Huber, president of the Foundation Academia Engelberg took us back to the Middle Ages: In the 9th century, Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi, Muslim philosopher and sage described cities as the epitomes of happiness and external perfection. He is one of the advocates of urban societies, but ever since cities exist they have been discussed controversially. They are planned to embody a society’s dream, but a utopia can never become reality. Real cities always have their shady sides. Cities are places of creativity, where people live their struggles. Success and failure lie very close together.
During the open ceremony of this year’s conference we heard some of Bertolt Brecht’s statements on urban life. In contrast to Al-Farabi, the songs of Brecht’s cycle Ein Lesebuch für Städtebewohner represent a more critical look on peoples’ life in cities and their daily struggles: their struggle for individuality in the crowds, their struggle for feelings that will always be associated with nature banned from cities, their struggle for survival that leads to moral conflicts, their struggle for justice, their struggle for not loosing hope and believing in the future.
The 21st century will most likely be a century of struggles, too. Struggles have meanwhile reached global dimensions. To address global problems such as the fast growing population in African and Asian cities, climate change, shortage in resources, and environmental pollution an interdisciplinary and intercultural dialogue is urgently required. Since the majority of the world’s population will be living in urban areas this dialogue should focus on developing new concepts of sustainable cities. Providing new concepts for future cities this year’s conference hopefully brings enLIGHTenment, which brings us back to Bertolt Brecht:
There are some who are in darkness
And the others are in light
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness drop from sight
Denn die einen sind im Dunkeln
Und die andern sind im Licht
Und man siehet die im Lichte
Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht
Donators and Partners
The ETH Board is responsible for the strategic leadership of the ETH domain and assumes the supervision of its institutions. Its close relationship with the ETH Council has contributed to the successful continuation of Academia Engelberg Foundation since 2000.
The Foundation promotes research into the connecting human fundamentals of science. Academia Engelberg Foundation and the Foundation for Basic Research in Human Sciences have entered into a cooperation agreement for the period 2011 to 2015.
Helvetia is a quality-oriented comprehensive insurance company with over 150 years of experience. Academia Engelberg Foundation is convinced it will be able to use important synergies from the partnership starting in 2015.
A partnership with the University of Lucerne has existed since summer 2013. Since 2016 we have also a parthership with the Faculty of Economics and Management of the University of Lucerne. Through these partnerships, synergies are used and joint projects are tested and realized. The University of Lucerne currently consists of three faculties: the faculties for Theology, Culture and Social Sciences, and Law.