CFP: “Utopia in German Idealism” (London, 17 May 2024)

We ate glad to give notice of the call for papers for the workshop Utopia in German Idealism, which will find place on May 17th, 2024, at University of London Senate House.

The workshop is organized by Gregor Schäfer (University of Basle/ILCS, London) and Johan Siebers (Middlesex University/ILCS, London).

Abstracts should be c. 500 words in length and be accompanied (in the same file) by a short biographical note (100 words). They should be submitted to by close of business on February 15th, 2024.

Please find below the text of the call.


In his commentary on Hegel, Subject-Object (Subjekt-Objekt. Erläuterungen zu Hegel, 1951), Ernst Bloch criticises the closed structure of Hegel’s system as the ‘spell of anamnesis’ that makes it impossible to think something really new. It is, however, even more interesting that at the same time, in this very context, Bloch describes the structure of Hegel’s system as the simultaneity of the presence and the absence of the whole, the totum, in each part of the system: a structure he calls a ‘utopian presence’ – as it can be understood as paradigmatic for the paradoxical presence of the utopian within the world at all. Whilst Hegel (as well as Bloch himself) criticises any abstract understanding of utopia that opposes it to the present world in a merely external way, according to this interpretation, a certain utopian structure can be found at the very heart of Hegel’s system. Together with Bloch’s reference to Schelling’s late positive philosophy – as focusing on a drive striving beyond any abstract-identical, un-historical understanding of presence – and together with references to obvious utopian aspects in Kant’s and Fichte’s practical-moral philosophy, German Idealism thereby plays a central systematic role for Bloch’s concept of (concrete) utopia. Likewise, this constellation allows one to discern utopia as a systematic – both theoretical and practical – structure present in German Idealism itself.

Although Bloch explicitly refers to these connections, the role of German Idealism as a central historical and systematic source for his concept of utopia is still widely neglected in research on Bloch – as well as, contrariwise, utopia and its constitutive role are still a marginalized topic in research on German Idealism.

The workshop aims to fill some of these gaps by dwelling on this constellation and discussing its systematic and critical relevance from different perspectives – be it with regard to Bloch’s dialogue with German Idealism, be it with regard to German Idealism itself (particularly in the work of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling, but also in that of other figures belonging to this tradition).

The organisers now invite abstracts for possible contributions of 30 minutes to this workshop. Those papers selected will be given at the in-person workshop which will be held on Friday, May 17th, 2024, at the University of London Senate House. Applicants will be informed whether or not their papers have been selected by the end of February 2024. Support for travel/accommodation costs cannot be guaranteed.

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