Joint international conference between the National University of Ireland Galway | Ollscoil Na Héireann Gaillimh, The Irish Philosophical Society | Cumann Fealsúnachta Na Héireann, and the British Society for Phenomenology.

Location: Online event platform and discussion forum for registered attendees

Date: Wednesday 1 – Friday 3 September 2021

NUIG, the IPS, and the BSP announce a joint international collaborative online conference for September 2021. The conference committee has decided that due to the long-term and ongoing effects of the pandemic, the event will be online to facilitate forward planning and avoid all kinds of uncertainties for speakers and delegates.


  • January 2021: Call for papers opens and keynotes announced
  • April 2021: Abstract review, selection, and outcomes communicated
  • May 2021: Registration opens

‘The Future as a Present Concern’

This conference explores the question of the future from phenomenological and other philosophical perspectives. We encourage papers on various aspects of this question, whether ontological, ethical, aesthetical, epistemological, and in relation to political theory, gender theory, critical race theory, ecology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and analytic philosophy. We would particularly welcome applications from practitioners who are interested in the application of phenomenology, philosophy, and theory in their professional disciplines.

So much human emotion, thought and action is oriented to the future. Hopes and fears, plans and strategies, promises and interventions, derive their meaning from future intentions. However, as philosophers from Aristotle to Heidegger have pointed out, the future is that which is not yet. The future does not exist, tomorrow never comes. Therefore, the question arises as to how we should understand the future. Is the future simply non-being at the limits of the present? If so, does the present have any real connection with a putative future that does not yet exist? In tackling such questions, the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, stressed the future as an aspect of the present. In his terms, each present consciousness is characterized by protention, in other words, the anticipation of a future not as actively planned or envisaged but as passively expected. The present is not an abstract moment but a flow of past and future intentional directions.

This conference seeks to contribute to understanding the future as a present concern both with respect to the underlying issues of temporal orientation and the pressing questions of today as we face into an increasingly uncertain future. Paper topics can explore, for instance:

  • Actions in the present, to the extent to which they have lasting effects, will serve to mould the world of future generations. But are we responsible with respect to future people who have not yet been born? If so, what is the basis of that responsibility? And, if it can be shown that we have such a responsibility, to which people or peoples is this responsibility directed?
  • In the background of much of the political debate around immigration is the question as to whether present actions should secure the future of a particular society to be more or less identical with the present in terms of cultural, religious, linguistic make-up. Contributions that tackle questions of territoriality, migration, and democratic structures are welcome.
  • While certain forms of orientation towards the future stress continuity, there is a long history of messianic, utopian, and revolutionary thinking and action that is premised on the hope or expectation that the future will be / should be qualitatively different from the present. Is there any basis to the claims to novelty, that human action can bring about new and presumably better worlds or in the end, is it more true to say that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’?
  • At a time of unprecedented technological innovation, there is a growing sense of inertia when it comes to decision making, particularly in the face of ecological and economic crises. Robust growth seems to go hand in hand with a sense of collapse. It would seem that the orientation toward the future differs in different domains for reasons which may be contingent but which may be analysable in structural terms. How do technological development, and environmental and social challenges form the anticipatory horizon of current and future activity in different fields? Contributions could explore how practitioners in different fields face up to the future.

Conference Directors

Prof Felix Ó Murchadha, Professor of Philosophy, School of History and Philosophy, College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, NUIG/ONHG, Ireland

Dr Cara Nine, President of the IPS/CFNH; Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University College Cork, Ireland / Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh, Ireland

Dr Keith Crome, Acting President and Impact Director of the BSP; Principle Lecturer in Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of History, Politics & Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Categories: Events