Conference: "Trust, Emotion and Uncertainty"

Conference: "Trust, Emotion and Uncertainty"

The aim of the conference is to clarify three interrelated fields of problems concerning the phenomenon and the concept of 'trust'. The idea is to arrange for each of these fields a panel of two experts who discuss trust:
(1) in the context of philosophy of emotion
(2) in the context of philosophy of language
(3) in the context of philosophy of religion and theology.

The first panel deals with the question of whether at all or in what sense trust to be taken as an emotional feeling, as a mood or as an affective attitude. How are activity and passivity, asymmetry and reciprocity as well as the pre-reflective and the volitional and cognitive dimensions of trust related to each other? Which features tend to become prominent in which type of situation? In this context unclear, ambiguous situations are of special interest, which question trust as ‘natural’ or self-evident response and confront us with existential and emotional uncertainty. How can we judge what is going on, and what role does trust or distrust play in this judgment? What kind of theory can account most adequately for the complexity of experiences oscillating ‘between’ trust and distrust and their changes in the course of human interaction?

The second (Wittgensteinian) panel reacts to the suspicion that trust cannot be reduced to a mental state. Should trust rather be described as a pattern of behavior, which is characterized by the absence of certain speech acts that signal distrust? It is controversial whether trust can be conceived of as a coping strategy involving risk taking and rational choices. Alternatively, it could be conceived of as a basic openness despite uncertainty, as unfounded fundament of life. To put it with Wittgenstein (On Certainty, nr. 509): “I really want to say that a language-game is only possible if one trusts something (I did not say ‘can trust something’).” In this context, the semantics and pragmatics of trust as inter-subjective phenomenon will be examined.

The third panel focuses on (dis)trust in the God-relationship. What do people mean when they say “In God we trust” – although they might be in a situation similar to biblical Job? The Protestant tradition opposes trusting faith in the sense of fiducia and self-enclosure in the sense of incurvatio in se. Faith is seen as a gift we receive mere passive, while sin is traced back to our own activity. Emphasizing certitudo, the inner certainty and orientation faith provides, the fathers of the Reformation at the same time warned of the self-delusive feeling of securitas, of safety and salvation that is not due to God’s grace alone – but e.g. to money, life insurances, etc. Can we trust in our justification through faith alone, or should we try to find a rational foundation for it? In what sense remains faith beyond reason, and how can it be distinguished from reliance and belief?

Confirmed speakers:
Panel 1: Paul Faulkner and Gloria Origgi
Panel 2: David Cockburn and Olli Lagerspetz
Panel 3: Cornelia Richter and Philipp Stoellger

Organized by Claudia Welz

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