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OnthetrailofDavos

ThelegendarydebatebetweenErnstCassirerandMartinHeideggerattheinternationalDavosUniversityConferencein1929wentdowninphilosophyhistory.Theirphilosophicaldebateisstillcurrenttoday,and90yearslaterhasbecomethetopicofanownstudentconference.

Verschneite, sonnige Gebirgslandschaft
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InthesnowymountainsofDavos,inneutralSwissterritory,GermanyandFranceshouldcomeclosertogetheragainaftertheFirstWorldWar,alsoscientifically.Withthisgoal,theinternationalDavosUniversityConferenceswerelaunchedin1928."Then,theworldwasinastateofupheaval.InGermany,therewereeffortstoestablishdemocraticstructuresforthefirsttime.Youngpeoplehadthefeelingthattheyhadtotakecareofthingsnow,becausethewaysoftheirparents'generationhadledtothecrisis,"explainedFrederikeLoch,whoisstudyingtobecomeaphilosophyteacherandtookpartinaseminaronthediscussionsinDavosatKielUniversityduringthelastsummersemester.There,sheandalsootherstudentsnoticedparallelswithtoday."Then,asnow,themistakesofthepastseemtoofferlittleguidanceforthefuture.Thereforethebigquestionsarise,suchasafterwards,aboutwhatmanreallyis."ThisquestionwasthethemeoftheConferencein1929.

Attheendoftheseminar,Lochandotherstudentsdecidedtoorganisetheirownconferenceonthetopicofthe"CassirerHeideggerdebate".Then,injustafewweeks,theyhadtofindavenue,invitespeakers,applyforsupportsuchasresearchfundingfromtheCAU,printadvertisingpostersandpreparetheirownpresentations-inadditiontotheirnormalstudies.Thebiggestchallengewastheinvitations.Itwastooshortnoticeformany,eveniftheyfoundthetopicinteresting.Afterall,thehighpointoftheDavosUniversityConferencein1929wentdowninphilosophyhistoryasthe"CassirerHeideggerdebate":thelegendaryencounterbetweenthephilosophersErnstCassirerandMartinHeidegger.

Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger
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ErnstCassirerontheleft,andMartinHeideggerontheright

One(Cassirer)wasanestablishedphilosophyprofessor,theother(Heidegger)a15-year-younger"newcomer",whobrokewithphilosophicaltraditions.Onebelievedthatmankindcantranscenditsfinitenature,suchasdeath,bythepowerofitsspirit.Theotherbelievedthatpreciselythisfinitenatureisessentialtobeinghuman.OnehadtofleelaterbecauseofhisJewishancestry.TheotherenjoyedaflourishingcareerasamemberoftheNaziParty,andbecameauniversityrector."Thesecontrastsinparticularensuredthattheirencounterattainedmythicalstatus.Intruth,theconfrontationwasnotquitesospectacular,"saidLoch.Theyeachacknowledgedtheothersopinion,eveniftheydidnotshareit.WhatprobablyremainedinthemindsoftheparticipantsatthetimewasinsteadthespecialatmosphereoftheConference.ThefuturedoctorLudwigEnglerttookpartasastudentin1929,andreportedinthesubsequently-publishedConferenceproceedingsabouthowhewasthrilledbytheunusuallycloseexchangebetweenstudentsandprofessors.

TheCAUstudentshadasimilarexperiencewiththeirownconferencetitled"DavoserDisputation1929"(CassirerHeideggerDebate1929)."Ourcooperationwiththelecturerswasdifferenttothatineverydayacademiclife.Weresolvedmanyorganisationalissuestogether-whichofcourseboostsself-confidence,"recalledFrederikeLoch.Thestudentorganisingteamhadthegoalofcreatinganatmosphere,inwhicheveryindividualdarestoaskquestionsandparticipateintheconversation,alsoduringthesubject-specificdiscussions.SoitmovedfromtheclassicallecturehalltotheLiteraturhausinKiel,wherediscussionsalsocontinuedunhinderedduringthecoffeebreaks."Evenourtwoexternalspeakers,privatelecturerDrThomasMeyerfromtheLudwig-Maximilians-UniversittMnchen(LMUMunich)andDrJrnBohrfromtheUniversityofWuppertal(BUW),thankedusfortheveryinformativeevent,"saidthedelighted25-year-old.

ItwasdifferentforHeideggerin1929.Althoughhehadsomeniceskiruns,hewrotetoanacquaintanceattheendoftheConference,hedidnotgainmuchknowledgefromthestayinDavos.AndwhatdidtheyoungpeopletakewiththemfromDavos,inordertochangetheworld?"Duetotheeffectsoftheglobaleconomiccrisis,andtheseizureofpowerbytheNazisin1933,theDavosUniversityConferenceswereonlyheldatotaloffourtimes.Manyideasandplansthatwereassociatedwiththem,werelost,"summarisedFrederikeLoch.Hoperemainsthattheparallelsendhere.

Author:JuliaSiekmann

QuickandTiny:fundingstudentresearch

Goingonaresearchexpedition,carryingoutstudies,testingsoftwareideas,orashere,organisinganownconference:the"QuickandTiny"fundinggrantshavesofarsupported24studentprojects,topursuetheirownresearchtopicswithaminimumofbureaucracy.TheimpulsecamefromtheExcellenceWorkshop,atwhichalluniversitymemberscouldmakesuggestionstoimproveteaching,researchandwork.Theworkshopwaspartoftheuniversity-wideparticipationprocesstodeveloptheCAUsapplicationfortheExcellenceStrategy.(jus)