“A Powerful Universe – Levels of Powers”. A S&R Conference in Paris

After almost three years of the existence, the Science and Religion Cluster of HEST reached the highest point of its activities, the conference: “A Powerful Universe – Levels of Powers: Dispositions and Their Applications in Science, Metaphysics, and Theology”. It was a fully academic event which took place 8-9th of October 2019 in Centre Sèvres Jesuit Theological Faculty in Paris. The planning of the conference and our preparations to it took almost two years. The conference was prepared by the survey among the members, the formulation of the research programme, two workshops (in Kraków and Braga) as well as almost 15 skype meetings.

During the conference we had a great privilege to host prof. Stephen Mumford (Durham University / GB), the most renowned scholar on the question of dispositions and powers in metaphysics. He was very kind to accept our invitation and was very actively involved in the discussions sharing his deep knowledge of the topic as we presented our own papers. We hosted also prof. Douglas Porpora (Drexel University / USA), a sociologist, prof. William Abraham (Southern Methodist University / USA), a theologian, prof. Alvaro Moreno (University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian / Spain), a biologist. On Skype joined us prof. Ruth Groff (Saint Louis University / USA), a political scientist.

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Catholic Social Teaching as a framework for new business structures

Four scholars of the Catholic social teaching (CST) - Dariusz Dańkowski SJ, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Stanislav Košč, Catholic University in Ružomberok (Slovakia) & Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Andrzej Sarnacki SJ, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Robert Wawer SJ, Collegium Bobolanum - Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw (Poland) - prepared the 20-pages expert opinion: Catholic Social Teaching as a framework for new business structures. This report was further discussed within the first group of the cluster “Economy, Poverty, Ethics” and distributed to all members of the cluster.


The paper starts with the introduction to the basic principles of social life (the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, human dignity), the basic framework of social justice, intrinsic link between economic issues and ecological ones; this part of the elaboration refers mostly to the encyclical letters. Next, the authors present some pastoral guidelines of the General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, especially those which call for a new culture of dialogue and reconciliation (reconciliation with God, with one another, and with creation) and for intersectoral cooperation. Another section of the report presents the foundations of the Jesuit way of leadership (spirituality, innovation, holistic education). All of them can help us to redefine the notion of “success” and “failure” in business and influence a corporative culture. Ignatian spirituality stresses such values as deepest convictions, desires and knowledge. The final part of the report is focused on the practical problems which occurred in the economic crisis of 2008: state intervention (crisis of trust to the economic system) and corporate culture (problems of social responsibility in business).

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The Science and Religion Cluster’s workshop in Braga

The core group met in Braga, Portugal, between 26-29th of April 2019. Five of us turned up for the meeting in person (Bruno Nobre, Francois Euvé, Ulf Jonsson, Josef Quitterer, Jacek Poznański) and Georg Gasser from Innsbruck joined us on Skype at Saturday’s evening session.

We were guests of the Jesuit Community of the scholastics (Jesuits in formation) in Braga. We spend two nice days with them, celebrating masses, eating together and discussing philosophical, theological and everyday questions.

Saturday we dedicated to the organizational issues. We started with discussion on our conference which is to take place in Centre Sèvres in Paris, 8th-9th of October 2019. The title of the conference is “A Powerful Universe – Levels of Powers. Dispositions and their applications in Science, Metaphysics, and Theology”. It is the final event of the three years of existence of the Science and Religion Cluster of the HEST Programme. We invited for the conference a number of key scholars on powers and dispositions. We will try to enter in dialogue with them on the important issues concerning metaphysics, anthropology, sciences and God.

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Updates and latest meetings – HEST Ecology Cluster

 Since the last in-person meeting took place in Brussels in last November, the HEST Ecology cluster has been meeting regularly through webinars to share the developments and last updates of the different projects. The November meeting was followed by two general webinars: one on the 25th of January and another one on the 20th of March. Both discussions showed that the group is highly motivated and that the development of the projects is on the right track.

 Moreover, with the purpose of furthering the group’s work on the research project on food waste, a subgroup was created. In this group four different dimensions are being considered: social, theological, philosophical and scientific, and each of them is represented by one member of the group. The last meeting of the subgroup took place the 1st of February. During this webinar, the group shared their comments and thoughts on a paper written by Edmond Grace, SJ and María Verdugo from JESC on the social aspect of food waste and stressed the importance of looking into the idea of guilt and considering the possibility of incorporating psychology studies to this research. The group discussed the next steps to follow and prepared a short summary in order to present all the information to the general group during the next webinar.

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Registration for the symposium in Paris on 16-17 May 2019 is now open

Study days and symposia in Krakow, Munich and Namur have been taken up with critical analysis and reflection on how humanity is understood, suggesting some responses to the new forms of reductionism. These events have been preparing the las event of the cluster in Anthropology during this first period of the HEST project (2017-2019).

The Paris symposium on 16-17 May 2019 will be an opportunity to take stock of what has been learnt and discovered in this work, to explore some ways forward in thinking about the changes that have taken place in anthropology, and to take up a critical dialogue with these developments by proposing some new positions of our own.

You are kindly invited to register through this LINK by February 15th.

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