Classical german philosophy. University of Padova research group

CFP: «Archivio di Filosofia» XCII – 1/2024: “Logic of the Sensible, Functions of the Intuitive in Modern Philosophy: Antecedents and Perspectives”

We are glad to give notice that the Call for papers for the issue of «Archivio di Filosofia» XCII – 1/2024, Logic of the Sensible, Functions of the Intuitive in Modern Philosophy: Antecedents and Perspectives, is now opened. This issue is edited by Iacopo Chiaravalli (Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici, Roma) and Luigi Filieri (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz).

Please find below the text of the call.


A spider weaving a web born from its own entrails. This metaphor by Francis Bacon might summarize a historiographical prejudice according to which modern philosophy gives priority to cognitive abilities and conceptual activities belonging to the spontaneity of the subject. The scope of these activities – within which knowledge gains universal validity by means of some sort of detachment from the empirical level – would be the only one where the verum et factum convertuntur is to be achieved. To many interpreters, this view serves as a good formula in order to depict the historical and philosophical context developed throughout the seventeenth century. The aim of this special issue is to tell a different story.

Works like Descartes’ Rules help us see that the situation is far more complex, by arguing that the abstractness of the activity of the understanding leaves it vulnerable to self-delusion it cannot escape by conceptual means. This is exactly the reason why the ability of the imagination helps the subject avoid self-delusion by providing a sensible reference to the concept. This turn implies that the concept does not have per se an adequate ontological reference. Thus, the understanding no longer plays the role of the capacity for openness to forms – as it was in the Aristotelian tradition. Rather, it becomes a moment of autonomous elaboration through which objects are structured and de-structured according to rational cognitive aims. Generality and essence thus take different paths to the extent that they are now irreducible to each other.

Moreover, the sensuous image provided by the imagination no longer relates to the noetic in the same way a copy imitates a model: it rather exemplifies a general element that cannot be represented as such. However, this also implies that the sensible and the imaginative aspects begin to develop their own methods and structure in a way that differs from the conceptual order. These aspects complement the latter order by providing it with something it cannot achieve autonomously. As the logic of the sensible and the logic of the concept diverge, the great problem that modern philosophy has to face is to find a way to bridge this gap.

We can then answer the question of why the generalizing function of the concept does need a sensible reference in the following way. If the concept gathers the general features of the object thereby making it possible to acknowledge it in cognition, the concept is, at the same time, unable to prove the reality and existence of the very same object. If Duns Scotus already pointed to the impossibility to let the cognition of the essence of an entity simply correspond to the cognition of its existence, now the problem is to account for the cognition of an existence in terms of a sensible form of cognition. The sensuous or imaginative representation thus points to the ability to deal with three key features of the object: its sensible connotations, its individuality, and its very existence. This newly framed correspondence between existence and sensible cognition will be understood, from Kant onwards, in terms of intuition.

To combine the logic of the sensible and the logic of the concept therefore means, on the one hand, to grasp and account for intuitive structures and, on the other hand, to understand the way in which intuition shapes the form of concepts. The concept must be able to make itself sensible if it is to defend its cognitive grasp and efficacy. One might say that, in a way, modern philosophy plots its own developmental route by trying to find a balance between intuitiveness and discursivity, particular and general, existence and essence, image and concept. This balance arguably finds in the Hegelian notion of reason as self-realization of the absolute idea one of its most exemplifying options.

This special issue aims to address these topics by running through the key moments of the historical and theoretical elaboration of the relationship between concept, intuition and sensibility. From ancient philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, and late Platonism), through Scholastics (in particular the debate on the notion of cognitio intuitiva), the aim is to show how modern philosophy has been dealing with this sort of comeback of the intuitive (in Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel), and how this very question has reached the twentieth century. Throughout the latter, the logic of the sensible has indeed claimed a special kind of primacy over the logic of the concept: from Husserl’s focus on the passive and pre-discursive level of cognition to Neo-Kantian approaches making the case for a broader account of conceptuality that also includes and re-assess the sphere of the intuitive.

Deadline: December, 31st 2023.

Length: 50.000 characters (including space, notes, and literature).

Languages: Italian, English.

Submission (all manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review; all personal details must be removed): chiaravalli@studigermanici.it; lfilieri@uni-mainz.de.

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