The question this event puts forward may seem trivial at first, and yet it may not be easy to answer. Are health, security, and prosperity really the only requirements for a happy life? Are there not many other values, such as a sense of community, that have been lost to us, but that we secretly long for? The philosopher Byung-Chul Han, who teaches in Germany, has given close attention to similar issues in his prescient analyses “Müdigkeitsgesellschaft” and “Transparenzgesellschaft”. Following his talk he will pursue these debates in dialogue with the philosopher Robert Pfaller who teaches in Vienna; the two will investigate issues such as why we are rapidly losing a number of pleasurable ‘Kulturtechniks’, or how this development is enhanced in the age of psychosocial illumination’. Seen in this way Goethe’s recommendation that “one ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words”.
Byung-Chul Han (*1959) is a professor of philosophy and cultural science at the Berlin University of the Arts. He lives and works in Berlin.
Robert Pfaller (*1962) is a professor of philosophy at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He lives and works in Vienna. He wrote the books Wofür es sich zu leben lohnt and Zweite Welten.