Classical german philosophy. University of Padova research group

cfp: “Hegel and the Sciences: Philosophy of Nature in the 21st Century” (Plí, 31st volume)

We gladly announce that a call for papers has been opened for the 31st volume of Plí: the Warwick Journal of Philosophy, which will be devoted to the topic: Hegel and the Sciences: Philosophy of Nature in the 21st Century.

Deadline: 1st June 2019

See below for the text of the call and for more informations or download the pdf file of the cfp: “Hegel and the Sciences: Philosophy of Nature in the 21st Century” (Plí, 31st volume).


Confirmed contributors: Markus Gabriel (Bonn), Adrian Johnston (New Mexico)

The highly prolific speculative movement in 18th and 19th Century Germany saw the formation of increasingly detailed and comprehensive philosophical systems. One ineliminable consequent of the thought at the time was the necessity of a philosophy of nature. First popularized by Schelling, the project had been initiated by Kant, with roots arguably extending as far back as Aristotle. Hegel, following in this tradition, provides his own arguments, from a purely philosophical standpoint, as to why philosophy must move to a systematic consideration of nature and its various natural phenomena. In other words, philosophy must develop into a philosophy of nature.

The first question perhaps is what distinguishes a philosophy of nature from the empirical sciences, and is one meant to subsume the other? The philosophy of nature—being a philosophy—follows the criterion of rational necessity and aims at providing a comprehensive logical account of natural phenomena. The goal of a philosophy of nature is, therefore, to show how various ‘stages’ of nature (mechanism, physics, life sciences, etc.) accord with the demands of reason. The consequence of this is that a philosophy of nature must engage with and be informed by discoveries in the empirical sciences.

Hegel further distinguishes the philosophy of nature and natural science in the manner they treat their object. Hegel claims that the ‘universal’ of natural science is ‘simply formal’, that the properties investigated are understood in terms of identity and formal laws. In this sense, the determinate content of each particular science is isolated and the connection between these various sciences are understood, at best, only externally, or, at worst, reduced to one particular science. The project of a philosophy of nature, then, is to understand these various particulars to constitute necessary logical stages of an immanent process of nature as a whole. In other words, a philosophy of nature aims at grasping the coherent unity of natural phenomena through precisely taking seriously the essential difference of these.

The interesting question then is, has natural science changed? Since Hegel’s day, are we not witnessing science itself becoming more speculative, increasingly adopting the logic of concrete, rather than abstract, universal? Neuroscientists, like Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch, who integrate phenomenology in their theories of consciousness, or cosmologists, like George Ellis, who claim that a full scientific view of the world must entail the higher-order complex causality exhibited in human minds and human society, or biological anthropologists, such as Terrance Deacon, who sets out to give a non-epiphenomenal account of life, consciousness, normativity consistent with naturalistic explanations, to name but a few cases.

For this volume, Plí invites papers concerning Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, the idea of such a project and its relation to particular sciences. We encourage papers that examine and assess ‘stages’ (or the lack thereof) in the Philosophy of Nature with regards to specific domains (physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, etc.). Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The idea of nature and its science
  • Why a philosophy of nature? And what role(s) might it play today?
  • How can there be a systematic, yet non-reductive, account of contingency?
  • Elements of a philosophy of nature and its co-determination with:
    • Physics, quantum mechanics or string theory
    • Chemistry, biochemistry, genetics or evolution
    • Geoscience, meteorology or geology
    • Astronomy, astrophysics or cosmology
    • Biology, physiology or ecology
    • Computer science
    • Cognitive science, neuroscience, or neurobiology
  • Possible gaps or limitations of a philosophy of nature

As well as works addressing the theme of each issue, Plí is always open to consider:

  • Strong articles on any aspect of ‘continental philosophy’
  • Book reviews (please contact the journal to discuss prospective reviews)
  • Short translations of important works in continental philosophy.

The deadline for submissions is 1st June 2019. Submissions should be articles no longer than 10,000 words, prefaced by an abstract, and sent by email to: plijournal@warwick.ac.uk as a Word, ODT or RTF file. Include an e-mail address for future correspondence.

Before submitting an article, please ensure you have read the Notes for Contributors.

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