Opening Panel: History and Purposes of Conference (Buford, Auxier, Bengtsson)

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We’re here at Lund University, founded in 1666. Researchers at LU devised the Tetrapak, artificial kidney, diagnostic ultrasound, Nicorette, Bluetooth, the invisible bicycle helmet (yes, there is such a thing), and a quinoa-based skin cream. We’ve been welcomed by Gunnar Broberg, a leading Linnaean scholar (fittingly, since Linnaeus was here to study medicine 1728-29). Broberg remarked that the building we’re in now houses skulls from the Battle of Lund (1676) which saw the slaughter of perhaps 9000 soldiers or 40-50% of all soldiers on the battlefield that day. So history runs very deep here.

Comments from Thomas Buford:

What motivated this conference? American personalism almost died in the twentieth century; barely kept alive at meetings of the APA, Eastern section. But Buford believed it was still relevant.

What is the history of the conference? Buford started the Personalist Forum in the eighties and dreamed up the idea of a international conference limited to serious questions about persons, from any philosophical approach, rather than just personalism. Snce then, the conference has rotated internationally, attracting 40 to 125 participants.

How successful has it been? The conference has attracted philosophers from five continents, but many important groups has not been represented. The conference boasts an informal atmosphere and a non-confrontational attitude.

What issues remain to be discussed? Traditionally,the conference has not been narrowly thematic, but one question that arises is the question of philosophical legitimation.

Auxier: No prescription of methodology, position. Give up doctrinal expectations. And there’s lots of time for discussions outside presentations. About a third of the papers are delivered by personalists, but that doesn’t exclude non-personalists. J2P2 was a prominent personalism before becoming pope. Personalism has a strong history of activism.

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