Call for papers: “Vision and Visibility in German Idealism and Romantic Naturphilosophie” (Bristol, 24-25 May, 2018)

We are pleased to announce that a call for papers is now open for the international conference “Vision and Visibility in German Idealism and Romantic Naturphilosophie. The conference will take place on May 24th-25th, 2018 at the UWE Bristol.

The conference is funded by the British Society for the History of Philosophy.

Keynote speakers:  Dr. Laure Cahen-Maurel and Dr. Daniel Whistler.

The deadline for the submissions of the abstracts is March 18th, 2018.

Please find below the full text of the call.


The question of what makes the German Idealists specifically post-Kantian is posed in particular degree by the Naturphilosophie which they and their contemporaries in the sciences and the arts revived for the modern age. On the issue, for example, of conditionality, the Idealists pressed Kant’s critique of the given into service against the conclusions or settled positions of the transcendental philosophy itself. Hence, for example, the radical approaches to subject-object unconditioning evident in Fichte and the early Schelling, or the re-evaluation of their relationship through the concept of life in the young Hegel.

This conference, however, will focus on how inquiries into the conditions of sensibility are affected by the project the post-Kantians called Naturphilosophie in the specific context of their discussions of light, colours, the eye and reflection in general. Our hypothesis is that these issues are more important than has been assumed, not only for their respective political, ethical, and aesthetic projects, but also for the naturephilosophical attempt to broaden and reconfigure questions concerning the conditions of possibility of human knowledge into questions susceptible to natural-scientific enhancement. This is not to argue that the idealists proposed that knowledge be ‘naturalised’ in the sense of this term understood by contemporary philosophy. As is evident from the Earliest System Program of German Idealism, the post-Kantians sought a philosophically enhanced physics rather than an impoverished philosophy, which would lead to innovative approaches regarding the realm of the sensible such as Goethe’s Farbenlehre, Hegel’s Naturephilosophie, Schelling’s speculative physics and so on. Therefore, this conference asks what is the specifically Naturphilosophische manner of involving empirico-physical conditions in post-Kantian philosophical inquiry?

Brought partly into focus by the revival of interest in visuality in philosophy towards the end of the last century (Luce Irigaray, Martin Jay, David Michael Levin, Rodolphe Gasché), the aim of this conference is to focus on the topic of visuality within the scope of German Idealism and Romantic Naturephilosophie.

Papers wishing to explore the importance of light, colours, eye, visual metaphors, reflection processes in this philosophical area are most welcome, as well as papers wishing to explore the inheritance of Naturephilosophie’s Physics in 19th Century and contemporary philosophy.

Graduate students are encouraged to submit abstracts, and we will have some funding available to contribute to graduate expenses.

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words for 30 minute papers to by 18th March 2018.

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