Friday, June 8, 2018

Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy: Naturalism in Classical German Philosophy (July 9-20, 2018)

For those in Europe/Germany perhaps of interest...

Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy - Summer 2018

July 9th-20th, Bonn University
"The Issue of Naturalism in Classical German Philosophy" 

(8th International Bonn Summer School in German Philosophy)

Course description:

This year’s international summer school will focus on the issue of naturalism within classical German philosophy. “Naturalism” is a vague concept. As the term is used today it often connotes at least the following (in fact only loosely interrelated) theses: (1) that there are no transcendent objects (e.g. gods or immortal souls); (2) that everything is physical or at least fully describable with the resources of the natural sciences alone; and (3) that human beings are part of the animal kingdom. So understood, “naturalism” was already a central issue in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophy.

In the first week, we will look at various controversies in the 18th century which set the terms of the debate over the prospects of forms of naturalism. The second week will be dedicated to a close reading and reconstruction of Hegel’s philosophy of nature in his mature Encyclopedia. In this context, we will also consult the Schellingian background of Hegel’s philosophy of nature in order to address the issue of naturalism within the overall idealist framework of Hegel that traditionally seemed to be in conflict with the naturalism of his successors.

Many of the most explosive debates of the period revolved around one or more aspects of naturalism, including the debate between the Condillac, Rousseau, Süßmilch, and Herder concerning the origin of language; the debate between Haller and La Mettrie concerning the significance of Haller’s animal experiments on “irritation”; the Pantheism Controversy between Jacobi and Mendelssohn concerning Spinozism; the Atheism Controversy concerning Fichte’s alleged atheism; and the Materialism Controversy that arose in the middle of the nineteenth century. Moreover, virtually all of the major thinkers of the period wrestled with the issue in one way or another, including Kant, Herder, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Alexander von Humboldt, Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Langer, Helmholtz, and Haeckel.

In the summer school we will look at the German philosophy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the lens of this issue. Specific topics covered within the seminar and by our keynote speakers will include the debate on the origin of language; Kant, Herder, Hegel, and others on human-animal difference; the Haller-La Mettrie debate and the Materialism Controversy; the role of Spinozism in German philosophy; Kant’s anti-naturalist strategies; the philosophy of nature in Schelling, Hegel, and Humboldt; the emergence of philosophical atheism in Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche; and the German contribution to and reception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

As always, we will provide all participants with a reader containing the material to be discussed in our seminar meetings and by our keynote speakers.

For more information (or presumably to inquire if one might attend despite not presenting):

Website HERE.