Conference: “The Concept of Drive in Classical German Philosophy” (München, 11-12 October 2019)

We are glad to give notice of the International Conference The Concept of Drive in Classical German Philosophy: Between Biology, Anthropology, and Metaphysics. The conference will be held at LMU Munich on October 11th-12th, 2019. 

The event is organized by Dr. Manja Kisner and Dr. Jörg Noller and is supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Registration is possible at this link until October 5th, 2019.

Below you can find the general presentation and the programme of the conference.


From the website of the event:

The concept of drive plays a crucial role in Classical German Philosophy for the foundation of theoretical as well as practical philosophy. Moreover, the concept of drive becomes essential in this period not only for philosophy, but also for other areas such as biology, anthropology, and psychology. As such, this concept facilitates new ways to describe nature and to define humans not only as merely natural, but also as cultural and moral beings that possess freedom. In this way, the idealist concept of drive brings together various philosophical traditions such as empiricism, rationalism, and the Enlightenment. The focus of the conference is thus both historical and systematic. Its aim is to portray, reconstruct and discuss the development of the concept of drive from Kant and Herder to Fichte, Schelling and Hegel for the first time. Accordingly, the following questions will be of particular interest:

  • What systematic, epistemological, aesthetic and educational functions does the concept of drive fulfill?
  • To what extent does the concept of drive bridge the gap between theoretical and practical philosophy? To what extent does the concept of drive connect philosophy, biology, and anthropology?
  • To what extent does the idealist concept of drive do justice to the phenomenon of life? In what way is still of systematic relevance?


Friday, October 11 (Main Building, Room B206): From Early Enlightenment to Kant

9.00: Opening Address

Chair: Manja Kisner

9.15-10.15 a.m.: Catherine Wilson (New York): The Dual Legacy of Leibniz’s Theory of Appetition
10.15-11.15 a.m.: Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (Bucharest): Drive and perfectibility: Reimarus, Cochius and the Preisfrage for 1767

Coffee Break

11.30-12.30 p.m.: John Zammito (Houston): Between Reimarus and Kant: Blumenbach’s Concept of Trieb


2.00-3.00 p.m.: Andrew Cooper (Warwick): The economy of the Bildungstrieb in Goethe’s comparative anatomy
3.00-4.00 p.m.: Nigel DeSouza (Ottawa): Herder’s concept of force (Kraft)

Coffee Break

Chair: Jörg Noller

4.30-5.30 p.m.: Manja Kisner (Munich): Kant on driving forces: Parallels and differences in Kant’s conceptualization of drives (Trieb) and incentives (Triebfeder)
5.30-6.30 p.m.: Dietmar Heidemann (Luxemburg): The concept of drive in Kant’s third Critique

7.00 p.m.: Dinner


Saturday, October 12 (Main Building, Room B206): From Kant to Hegel

Chair: Jörg Noller

9.00-10.00 a.m.: Alix Cohen (Edinburgh): The feeling of life in Kant
10.00-11.00 a.m.: George Di Giovanni (Montreal): “Wie die Triebe, so der Sinn; und wie der Sinn, so die Triebe”: Jacobi on Reason as a Form of Life

Coffee Break

11.30-12.30 p.m.: Günter Zöller (Munich): Equine Driving. Fichte on the Teamwork of the Mind


Chair: Manja Kisner

2.00-3.00 p.m.: Violetta Waibel (Vienna): “The drive to be an I is at the same time the drive to think and to feel.” Hardenberg/Novalis on Drives, Faculties and Powers
3.00-4.00 p.m.: Jörg Noller (Munich): Drive, Will, and Reason: Reinhold and Schiller on Natural Freedom after Kant


4.30-5.30 p.m.: Paul Ziche (Utrecht): ‘Drive’ and the beyond – Schelling’s ideas on drives as metaphysical-psychological powers
5.30-6.30 p.m.: Angelica Nuzzo (New York): The Trieb of Dialectic: Systematic and Thematic Extension of the Concept of Trieb in Hegel


For further information and the abstracts of the talks, please visit the website of the event.

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