This year's Vienna Humanities Festival took the theme "Promise & Temptations" and once again invited the public to reflect with intellectuals, scientists, writers and artists on the fears, hopes and great questions of our time. From 25 September to 1 October. Admission was free.
The rise of populism has acted as a wake-up call: Western societies need a serious fix. Betrayed promises of equality and justice have unlocked resentment and anger that have started to tear our communities apart. “Rock star philosopher” Michael Sandel examined whether a fairer society is still within our grasp today. He asked if such a thing as the common good still exists, as well as whether and how we should value and reward citizens’ contributions to the economy. His reflections took us to the very heart of what human dignity means.
In his award-winning, bestselling book, The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?, Michael Sandel, whose advice is sought by institutions and governments across the world, has provided us with arguably the most elaborate critique of the values and reward systems that underpin contemporary Western societies. But the merit-based system is not making us any happier. Where does the path to more just societies lie? Sandel’s keynote address for the Vienna Humanities Festival, followed by a conversation with IWM Permanent Fellow Ivan Krastev, invited us to seriously rethink the fundamentals of the society in which we want to live.