09 July 2019

International Conference
Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

Prof Henning Ottmann (Munich)
Prof Pavo Barišić (Split/Zagreb)

Assist. Prof Marita Brčić Kuljiš (Split)

On the Topic

Democracy and philosophy entered the stage of world history at the same time – in Ancient Greece at the turn of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. Freedom and equality are two underlying concepts that link the above two human activities closely; moreover, they are the very fundament of all democratic endeavours and the focal point of philosophical reflections on justice. All discussions from ancient times to date revolve around the philosophical aspiration to arrive at a just or good system of relations within a political community and an adequate social system that would facilitate man’s freedom and his envisaged prosperity.

The relation between philosophy and democracy is not in the least idyllic; this relation is continually strained between thoughtful ideals written in the eternal celestial constellations and the shadowy reality of the reflection of ideas in the human cave. The philosophical inquiries and considerations of the democratic principles interlace the incontestable magnification and glorification of democracy setting it on a heavenly pedestal on the one hand, and fierce criticism and contestation on the other.

One of the legendary seven wise men – the Athenian lawgiver Solon appears, according to Aristotle, as a significant founding father in the shaping of democracy as well as at the beginning of the philosophical odyssey. He based the principles of democracy on the very idea of justice, dike, a profound belief in the polis being justly organised for all its citizens. Thus, democracy was founded on order, measure and mutual control, the very ideas that Plato built his objections on in his Politeia via Socrates’s words claiming that neither effective justice nor obliging morality can be established in democracy. In contrast to Solon’s perception that the foundations of justice, peace and well-being rest in the rule of the people, Plato maintains that democracy is not capable of establishing order in the polis since it represents disorder, anarchy. The reasons for such anarchy are too great a freedom of speech (parrhesia) and the freedom to arbitrarily shape one’s life (eleutheria), both of which lead towards intemperance, which is the beginning of the end of order in the polis. If we examine throughout the whole history of philosophy until the contemporary discussions of democracy, similar questions that have not lost on their currency since the times of the ancients are easily discernible.

Past Courses


  • Siegbert Alber, Stuttgart (Germany)
  • Elvio Baccarini, Rijeka (Croatia)
  • Pavo Barišić, Split/Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Sulejman Bosto, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Marita Brčić Kuljiš, Split (Croatia)
  • Konrad Clewing, Regensburg (Germany)
  • Bruno Ćurko, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Felicia Englmann, Munich (Germany)
  • Mark Evans, Swansea (United Kingdom)
  • Heda Festini, Rijeka (Croatia)
  • Volker Gerhardt, Berlin (Germany)
  • Klaus-Gerd Giesen, Clermont-Ferrand (France)
  • Funda Günsoy, Bursa (Turkey)
  • Larry A. Hickman, Carbondale (United States of America)
  • Hasnije Ilazi, Prishtina (Kosovo)
  • Vladimir Jelkić, Osijek (Croatia)
  • Karen Joisten, Mainz (Germany)
  • Hrvoje Jurić, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Josip Kregar, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Mislav Kukoč, Split (Croatia)
  • Jin-Woo Lee, Taegu (South Korea)
  • Dirk Lüddecke, Munich (Germany)
  • Anita Lunić, Split (Croatia)
  • Tina Marasović, Split (Croatia)
  • IvicaMartinović, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Tonči Matulić, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Reinhard Mehring, Heidelberg (Germany)
  • Hans-Otto Mühleisen, Augsburg (Germany)
  • Peter Nitschke, Vechta (Germany)
  • Karl-Heinz Nusser, Munich (Germany)
  • Henning Ottmann, Munich (Germany)
  • Jesús Padilla-Gálvez,Toledo (Spain)
  • Zvonko Posavec, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Stjepan Radić, Đakovo (Croatia)
  • Zdravko Radman, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Enno Rudolph, Luzern (Switzerland)
  • Ludger Schwarte, Düsseldorf (Germany)
  • Olga Simova, Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
  • Rok Svetlič, Koper (Slovenia)
  • Lenart Škof, Koper (Slovenia)
  • Kiril Temkov, Skopje (Macedonia)
  • ChristoTodorov, Sofia (Bulgaria)
  • Mariusz Turowsky, Wrocław (Poland)
  • Domagoj Vričko, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Jörg Wernecke, Munich (Germany)
  • Mirko Wischke, Berlin (Germany)
  • Barbara Zehnpfennig, Passau (Germany)


  • Democracy in the Light of Freedom and Justice, Synthesis philosophica No. 42, 2/2006
  • Democracy and Political Education, Synthesis philosophica No. 49, 1/2010
  • Deliberative Demokratie, ed. Henning Ottmann / Pavo Barišić, Nomos-Verlag, Baden-Baden 2015
  • Demokratie und Öffentlichkeit, ur. Henning Ottmann / Pavo Barišić, Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden, 2016.
  • Kosmopolitische Demokratie, ur. Henning Ottmann / Pavo Barišić, Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden, 2018.


  • Croatian Philosophical Society Zagreb
  • Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik


  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Croatia


University of Zagreb
Faculty of Croatian Studies
Znanstveno-učilišni kampus Borongaj
Borongajska cesta 83d
HR-10000 Zagreb