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Dietmar Heidemann becomes first chairman of the Kant-Gesellschaft

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Published on Thursday, 23 January 2020

Professor of philosophy since 2009 at the University of Luxembourg, Dietmar Heidemann has been elected first chairman of the prestigious Kant-Gesellschaft, established in 1904 as one of the largest and most influential philosophical societies worldwide. Active member of the board for more than 10 years, professor Heidemann, who is also a member of the Kant-Kommission of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, wishes to support the mission of the society to spread the study of Kant’s philosophy. 

Impressed by the revolutionary ideas of the 18th century philosopher, professor Heidemann starts studying the Enlightenment and the rigor of Kant’s thought during his University degree in Germany and the UK and hasn’t stopped since then. “Kant has written the most important philosophical book of modern times, and some would even say the most important philosophical book so far: The ‘Critique of Pure Reason’(1781/1787). His ethical theory still shapes our moral beliefs, modern societies and culture today” explains Heidemann. “Kant showed that every human being is an end in itself and must not in principle be treated as a means to other human beings’ benefits. This is clearly directed against slavery. He built the concept of self-critical thinking, established the idea of human rights and dignity, and invented modern political federalism. He molded the transition from feudal thinking to social and political equality. Those were radical ideas in his time that still impact us today ” adds the new first chairman.

If Kant’s thoughts supported the modern transition, they still resonate today.
The ubiquitous digital transformation of today’s world poses many challenges. Can we become digital without dehumanizing? Are technologies really liberating - giving us a voice -or are they pressuring the foundation of our moral beliefs and ideas of freedom, trying to track and predict our behavior with batch of data? “Kant’s concepts can be key in answering today’s pressing questions while securing our freedom. The Kant-Gesellschaft aims to further develop his thoughts in view of contemporary ethical, social, political and cultural challenges” underlines Heidemann.