Irritation, uncertainty, disbelief; distrust, skepticism, wariness – the spectrum of doubt is rich and diverse. But traditionally, philosophy and humanistic scholars tend to turn their back on it. Doubt is usually conceived in purely negative terms: It is seen as a mere lack of knowledge, as an unavoidable step towards clarity, at best as a token of our finitude. The rational ideal of ‘pure knowledge’ tries to eliminate doubt in favor of clarity and distinctness. Doubt, in this perspective, is just a necessary evil.
The international conference “The Pleasure of Doubt in Art, Aesthetics, and Everyday Life” wants to examine and further approaches which liberate doubt from its traditional subordinate position. It seeks to lay bare the generative, positive aspects of doubt. In doing this, it follows the lead of artists and scholars who, like the American Pragmatists, both emphasize and embrace the stimulating and transformative facets of doubt. In fact, moments of doubt may well be acknowledged as valuable opportunities for a creative transgression of one’s intellectual and experiential horizon: Doubt opens up the chance to loosen the grip of stiffened patterns of thought; it invites to take a second look, to form a new perspective, and to initiate a change of aspect.
The International Research Training Group „InterArt“, in cooperation with the
Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI), will host an international conference on „The Pleasure of Doubt in Art, Aesthetics, and Everyday Life“ from June 19 to June 21.