The Seminar took place at Sophia between 11th and 13th January, within the framework of a collaboration agreement with the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy of the Catholic University of Argentina at Buenos Aires.
A group of four professors travelled from Argentina to attend the event: Dean Javier Roberto González, Cecilia Avenatti de Palumbo, Alejandro Bertolini and Carlos Avellaneda. They were welcomed by a group of IUS professors and researchers on behalf of the entire academic community.
The event opened with a welcome address by Prof. Coda, who also took the chance to update the audience on the state of relations between the two universities.
He was followed by Prof. González, who in his speech reflected on the value of personal encounters along the path to knowledge. He emphasised that, while it is appropriate to classify disciplines according to a hierarchy, this does not imply that the same hierarchy should be applied to the people studying the disciplines: “Dialogue never takes place between disciplines, cultures or religions – dialogue takes place between people. Doctrines can relate to one another in an asymmetrical way; however, the advocates of those doctrines, the people, should always enter into dialogue on a symmetrical basis”. The idea behind the seminar and its objective was to think of the aesthetic form as the source of a new gnosiology, one that should be centred around a Trinitarian ontology; one that, in H.U. von Balthasar’s words – as quoted by prof. Avenatti – should move from the idea that “beauty is the forgotten language of Being”.
The conversation was initiated by Prof. Coda’s reflections on Augustine of Hippo, to whom he ascribed the invention of Trinitarian ontology, at the meeting point between Classical tradition and Christian novelty. Dialogue then developed around the inputs provided by the Trinitarian interpretation of aesthetics in the works of theologians and philosophers, from Augustine and Origen to Rosmini, Kierkegaard, Stein, Lévinas, Balthasar and Klaus Hemmerle.
One of the most intense moments of the seminar was the public lecture given by Prof. González, who offered the audience a guided reading of the poem ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ by Saint John of the Cross, “the greatest poet of the Spanish Golden Age” according to González. He explained that a true ‘ontology of giving’ is to be found in the verses of the Carmelite mystic, in the reciprocal love between the Beloveds.
Finally, it did not seem out of place to recall that, in order not to betray its spirit, Trinitarian ontology looks to Mary, the Theotokos, who offers herself as the very space in which the Logos may emerge. A truly novel aesthetic – and mystical – experience should not be interpreted through old ontology categories, but through new ones, in which being should not be thought of as static, but as capable of giving itself in the form of a relationship, because it is in itself a relationship.
Prof. González’s final words sum up the experience of the three days of the seminar: “I have felt at home, thanks to all of you”, to which Prof. Coda replied: “This is your home”. Dialogue will continue in September, when the second seminar is scheduled to take place at the Argentinean university.