Philosophy festival: Chaos

with a.o. Katherine Angel, Philippe Van Parijs (in conversation with Ilke Adam), Thomas Hertog, Marjolein de Boer, Helen Macdonald (in conversation with Sylvia Wenmackers), Tom-Jan Meeus, Stefan Hertmans, Tomas Serrien & Sjoerd Bruil

Since its inception, philosophy has sought to bring order out of chaos. Distrust appearances, Plato claimed, and discover the stability behind apparent anarchy. Even today, when technological, cultural and political upheaval makes the world uncertain again, we often seek for fixed constructions under which to find shelter.

Still, some philosophers have appreciated and even commended the chaotic. Heraclitus’ slogan that ‘one never steps into the same river twice’ continues to capture the imagination. Disorder is sometimes frightening but it can also enable an unprecedented freedom to change the world and ourself.

This year’s Philosophy Festival (aka Feest van de Filosofie) revolves around the risks, possibilities and temptations of chaos. British philosopher and essayist Katherine Angel kicks off with a lecture on the fragile world of desires, where playing with the boundaries of chaos is central.
Helen Macdonald, known for her literary-scientific memoir H is for hawk, joins philosopher Sylvia Wenmackers in a conversation about the power of science fiction. How can the imagination of alternative worlds open up new perspectives in the here and now? Stefan Hertmans reflects on how artists draw inspiration from their environment, without ever reducing themselves to it. In a musical lecture, Tomas Serrien explores how we recognize music in the auditory chaos of our lives. With which expectations do we listen to music, and which sounds threaten to escape us? Physicist Thomas Hertog draws philosophical lessons from his pioneering research into the big bang that shaped the laws of the natural world.

Culturally and politically, too, we are confronted with chaos, including the chaos of multilingualism in our metropolises – the modern Tower of Babel. Philippe Van Parijs and Ilke Adam discuss how we can transform this linguistic chaos into positive energy. Tom-Jan Meeus dissects the ‘spectacular emptiness’ of the current political landscape, where politicians increasingly make spectacular proposals that turn out to be meaningless a week later. Finally, we return to the relationship to ourselves, when Marjolein de Boer sheds a philosophical light on our ageing body which confronts us with our inability to put time on pause.

This year, the Philosophy Festival starts at the Schouwburg and continues at STUK. Participants can also opt for an all-English series of afternoon sessions.


13:30 - 15:00 opening lecture in 30CC/Schouwburg
15:00 - 16:00 coffee in STUK (coffee, orange juice or water, included in your ticket)
16:00 - 18:15 afternoon programme in STUK
18:15 - 20:00 possibility to dinner in STUK (not included in your ticket)
20:00 - 22:00 evening programme in STUK

You buy one ticket for the entire day - please keep it with you.
Not every venue has the same capacity, so please be on time if you want to attend a specific lecture.
The Philosophy Festival is open for non-Dutch speakers as well. The opening lecture by Katherine Angel is in English, and every time slot of the afternoon programme in STUK contains at least one lecture in English too.

Sat 30 Mar 2024 13:30


30CC/Schouwburg & STUK


20 € standard
15 € STUK card and teachers' card
7 € students
5 € Culture Card KU Leuven and members dito vzw
4 € UiTpas holders