Without exaggeration, uncertainty can be described as the signature of our time. Today, a multitude of crises and challenges confronts us with uncertainty in an often existential manner: from the climate crisis to the COVID pandemic, from the crises of neoliberal hegemony and liberal democracies to the recently re-emerging conflicts about the distribution of power in global society. Not only are possible solutions uncertain, but it is also impossible to anticipate which new crises and challenges may arise soon. This situation demands the reflection by political theory and the history of ideas, as it brings political coping strategies to their limits and casts doubt on established narratives of modern political theory.
What is needed, therefore, is an open exploration of problems beyond well-rehearsed paradigmatic positions of contemporary political theory. Uncertainty is not only a pressing problem of our time, but a constant companion of the history of political thought – sometimes more and sometimes less so. Reflecting on the problems of our time therefore not only benefits from a synchronic look at the plural theoretical offerings of the present, but also necessitates a diachronic look at the vicissitudes of the history of political ideas.
Moreover, the uncertainty of the present is unquestionably a problem that cannot be approached solely through the perspective of political theory in a narrow sense: exploratory dialogues between political theory and other sub-disciplines of political science are therefore not only appealing, but indispensable. Beyond the disciplinary perspective of political science, it is essential to include other disciplines that push beyond the narrow viewpoint of Western thought from the outset: the uncertainties we are currently confronted with are mostly global problems, and they belong to a world which is itself characterized by massive inequalities, power asymmetries, conflicts, and epistemic dissonances that not only amplify the uncertainties and insecurities, but also constitute them in the first place. The congress takes this complex and challenging situation as an opportunity to invite a joint reflection on the problem.