Reminder – Conference: “Conceptions of Experience in the German Enlightenment Between Wolff and Kant.” February 24, 25.

We are glad to remind you that a conference on Conceptions of Experience in the German Enlightenment Between Wolff and Kant” will be held in Leuven on February, 24-25.

The conference fee (including coffee and lunch breaks) is € 10 (without conference dinner) or € 55 (with conference dinner). Speakers pay € 35 (conference dinner included). Registration is free for KU Leuven students and staff members.

To confirm your participation, please register here.

The full program of the conference can be found here.

For practical information (travel and accomodation), click here.

For inquiries concerning the conference, please write to:


Please find a presentation of the conference below.


Keynote Speakers 

Christian Leduc (Montréal)
Arnaud Pelletier (Brussels)
Anne-Lise Rey (Lille)
Udo Thiel (Graz)


Organized by Karin de Boer (University of Leuven) and Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest)


The purpose of this conference is to analyze the various conceptions of experience at play in eighteenth-century German philosophy between Leibniz’s death in 1716 and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. During this period, the classical Aristotelian definition of experience as cognition of singulars – to some extent still present in Wolff – became confronted with the Baconian and Newtonian accounts of empirical knowledge. In the decades before the mid-century, the views of Locke and Hume, as well as French sensualism and materialism, complicated the prevailing German perspective on experience even more: the notion of empirical or ‘historical’ knowledge became linked to experiment and observation, investigations into perception and sensation took center stage, and ‘inner experience’ grew into a widely discussed topic.

The Berlin Academy, through the prize-essay contests it organized and the writings of its members, importantly contributed to the dissemination of Newtonianism and empiricism. Yet while most philosophers acknowledged the fundamental role of experience, they tried to accomodate the modern notions of experience to a view of cognition and science influenced by Wolffian metaphysics. The question as to the contribution of foundational metaphysical principles and empirical data to scientific knowledge was much discussed, as was the relationship between inner and outer experience, experience and thought, experience and judgment, experience and facts, experience and perception, experience and experiment, and perception and apperception.

Challenging the historiographical opposition between empiricism and rationalism, the conference aims to explore the often ambivalent or fluid conceptions of experience at work in these debates, as well their influence on disciplines such as psychology and aesthetics. Whereas all contributions relevant to these topics are welcome, we are particularly interested in contributions on the conceptions of experience elaborated by members of the Berlin Academy and by participants in the contests initiated by this institution.

The conference aims at stimulating fruitful exchanges between established scholars, junior researchers, and PhD students. Presentation time will be 25 minutes + 20 minutes for discussion.

Everyone interested in these topics is cordially invited to participate in the conference.

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