XIII International Ontology Congress


2018/10/02 - 2018/10/06
San Sebastian - October 9, 2018. Barcelona
Javier Aguirre (UPV San Sebastián), Gotzon Arrizabalaga (UPV San Sebastián), Juan Ramon Macuso (San Sebastián), Ignacio Garparsoro (UPV San Sebastián), Nicanor Ursúa (UPV San Sebastián), Bárbara Jiménez (UPV San Sebastián), Pedro Uribe (UPV San Sebastián)
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XIII International Ontology Congress


A Tribute to Robert Brout



Under the Honorary Presidence of

François Englert, Nobel Prize of Physics


International Scientific Committee: A. Aspect (Paris); P. Aubenque (Paris) F.J. Ayala (California); J. Bouveresse (Paris); †E. Chillida (San Sebastián); A. Grünbaum (Pittsburgh); †W. Lamb (Arizona); T. Marco (Madrid); U. Moulines (München); †I.Prigogine (Bruxelles); †H. Putnam (Harvard); C. Rovelli (Marseille). Coordinator: V. Gómez Pin (Barcelona).


In 1964 Robert Brout and François Englert published an article in Physical Review Letters that delved into hypotheses already advanced by themselves. In this article they defended that a singular particle should be given in the category of the so-called bosons. A few months later, the Scottish scientist Peter Higgs advanced an analogous hypothesis. In 2012, the Brout-Englert hypothesis was verified. Unfortunately, too late for Robert Brout to enjoy this great moment of satisfaction... he had passed away in 2011. Great physicists, sometimes Brout`s students, follow his scientific path. Philosophers, who are nourished by the results of the scientists` effort to make the nature intelligible, owe him, undoubtedly, tribute.

Since the first conference took place back in 1993, the aim of the International Ontology Congress, of which most of the conferences have been held under the auspices of UNESCO, has been to breathe new life into the great topics of Greek philosophy, examining them from a contemporary perspective, namely, using the tools provided by contemporary science. These problems keep being brought up constantly, either because of the emergence of new scientific data or because of the irruption of new philosophic perspectives.

It is obvious that the philosophical and ontological reflection about nature, what was in other times known as natural philosophy, cannot take place without the support of the “natural science of our times”, in Heisenberg`s words. It is well known that in the first twenty-five years of the XX century, experimental facts showed that the classical picture of nature was not completely justified in the realm of the microscopic. This was not the consequence of a philosophical whim, but it was imposed on the scientific community by the progressive accumulation of facts impossible to accommodate inside the previous picture of nature.

The main ontological implications of the new discipline were shown at the 1927 Solvay conference. A.S. Eddington asserted later that, if it was confirmed, the collapse of Absolute Causality announced in Solvay by Heisenberg, Born and others would make of this meeting one of the crux moments of the scientific and philosophical thought. But, as the Royal Majesty in the verses of Shakespeare, Causality never dies alone: it sweeps along a whole set of entangled principles that, from Greek physikoi to Einstein, had been considered the very grounds of our representation of nature. From then (and in spite of new theoretical data and crucial experiments) we can say that many of the questions discussed in the Solvay conference remain open and nourish in our days a fascinating debate. We hope to be able to discuss about these implications as well as to create new avenues for discussion at the first main section we are proposing for the XIII International Ontology Congress to be held in San Sebastián, from the 2nd to the 6th of October 2018: Since “Solvay 1927”: Nature and Quantum Physics (state of the art).

But it has not been the first time that philosophical problems rise in the history of Physics. In fact, the first West physicists, the thinkers of the marina cities of Ionia and their successors, were already confronted to deep questionings, which leaded to the advent of meta-physics, understood as the fate of Physics itself. This is why in 1948, Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger interrupted a course at Trinity College in Dublin arguing that, before continuing to work on physics, it was necessary for him to know the meaning of the word Physis. As he greatly admired the Greek intuition of scientific view, Schrödinger seemed to think that returning to the roots was the best way of staying faithful to the spirit of science. Then, let`s turn our attention to those roots, asking nevertheless if others civilizations were already developing an embryonic conception of nowadays physics. The International Ontology Congress maintains deep reliance on the roots, the foundations of current science and this confidence has been the inspiration for our second main section also to be held in San Sebastian, from the 2nd to the 6th of October 2018: Back to Ionia: the conception of Physis that makes Physics possible.

More information is available on the workshop web page: http://www.ontologia.info/es/index.php/last-edition