Understanding: One or Many?

18. – 20.07.2023

Institut für Philosophie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Mercator Raum GAFO 04/187


While understanding has recently become the object of intense debate among philosophers, it remains an open question how to make sense of different forms of understanding. These include scientific understanding (e.g. understanding scientific theories, phenomena, models, etc.), moral understanding (e.g. understanding other people, understanding political subjects, etc.), aesthetic understanding (e.g. understanding an artwork, like a novel or painting, and how these enable us to understand the world), or religious understanding (e.g. understanding theology, understanding and our spiritual life).

The main goal of the conference is to gather some of the most prominent, established researchers in the field of understanding, as well as early career researchers, to debate about the nature of understanding and what connections there may be between scientific, moral, aesthetic, and religious understanding.


This is a hybrid event, participation online or in person is free, but please register first by sending an e-mail with your name, e-mail address, and preference (online or in-presence participation) to: 




Seats are limited for in-presence participation!

A Zoom link will be sent to all registered participants on July 17. 

(All times are CET!)


8:45 – 9:00 opening
9:00 – 10:15 Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard): “Epistemic Agency”
10:15 – 11:30 Christoph Jäger (Innsbruck/HU): “Socratic Authority and Understanding”
11:30 – 12:00 Coffee break
12:00 – 13:15 Silvia Jonas (Bamberg): “A Mathematical Perspective on Religious Understanding”
13:15 – 15:00 Lunch break
15:00 – 16:15 Alexander Prescott-Couch (Oxford): “Two Kinds of Political Understanding”
16:15 – 16:45 coffee break
16:45 – 18:00 Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern) & Kareem Khalifa (UCLA): “A Social Epistemology of Scientific Understanding”
19:30 Conference dinner


8:45 – 9:00 opening
9:00 – 10:15 Annalisa Coliva (Irvine): “Wittgenstein and Morphology” (tentative title)
10:15 – 11:30 Alfredo Vernazzani (RUB): “Seeing-As, Memory, and Perceptual Intelligibility” 11:30 – 12:00 coffee break
12:00 – 13:15 Albert Newen (RUB): “Multiple Types of Social Understanding and their Underlying Dimensions”
13:15 – 15:00 Lunch break
15:00 – 16:15 Elisabeth Schellekens (Uppsala): “Aesthetic Experience and Epistemic Gain: The Case for Intelligible Aesthetic Value”
16:15 – 16:45 Coffee break
16:45 – 18:00 Jochen Briesen (Konstanz/FU): “Response-Dependence, Knowledge, and Understanding”


8:45 – 9:00 opening
9:00 – 10:15 Mario Hubert (AUC) & Federica Isabella Malfatti (Innsbruck): “Understanding Quantum Mechanics”
10:15 – 10:30 coffee break
10:30 – 11:45 Henk de Regt (Radboud): “The Prospects of Artificial Scientific Understanding”
11:45 – 12:00 Conference ends


Jochen Briesen

Universität Konstanz

Annalisa Coliva

University of California, Irvine

Catherine Elgin

Harvard University

Sanford Goldberg

Northwestern University

Mario Hubert

American University in Cairo

Silvia Jonas

Universität Bamberg

Christoph Jäger

University of Innsbruck

Kareem Khalifa

University of California, Los Angeles

Federica Isabella Malfatti

University of Innsbruck

Albert Newen

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Alexander Prescott-Couch

Oxford University

Elisabeth Schellekens

Uppsala University

Alfredo Vernazzani

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Henk W. de Regt

Radboud University


Federica Isabella Malfatti

University of Innsbruck

Alfredo Vernazzani

Ruhr-Universität Bochum