Exploring heterodox naturalism

An online seminar organized by Giuseppe Bianco (Ghent University), Gertrudis Van Vijver (Ghent University), Charles T. Wolfe (University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès)

This series of seminars proposes a discussion of German and French intellectual projects between 1870 and 1940 labelled 'Philosophy of Life,' 'Biological Philosophy,' and 'Philosophical Anthropology.' The core hypothesis is that they share an alternative conception of philosophy, called here heterodox naturalism, which (1) resists reductive naturalisms as well as idealist and analytical approaches, and (2) seeks to articulate an expansive notion of 'life' not restricted to that provided by the natural sciences. We will try to clarify how these non-reductive conceptions of life aimed at rethinking the specificity of human beings as living entities and were driven to articulate an alternative approach of knowledge by the institutional settings of the time. Three dimensions are focused upon: (1) their alternative conception of philosophy, requiring a meta-philosophical analysis of the positions at stake; (2) their conceptions of life, as well as their conceptions of human uniqueness to which these lead, requiring conceptual and terminological analyses; and (3) the sociological and institutional factors to which they responded, requiring a sociologically-driven analysis. The seminar series draws upon the results of an ongoing FWO-project on “Vitalism – A Counter-History of Biology”, and purports to project, as did the latter one, its results to our current era, with attention for the place of the humanities in an university in as far as it is occupied with naturalistic approaches.

Every two Wednesdays 4 PM – 6 PM

To be included in the list and receive a link, write me!

1. Oct. 6: G. Bianco, G. Van De Vijver, C.T. Wolfe – Introduction

2. Oct. 20: A. Gambarotto (Université Catholique de Louvain) – “Intrinsic purposiveness in biological systems: the Hegelian stance and its contemporary relevance”

3. Nov. 3: P. Honenberger (Temple University) – “Eccentric naturalism: behavioral plasticity and the human place in the world.”

4. Nov. 17: F. Michelini (Universität Kassel) – “Heidegger’s shadow. Comparing Plessner’s and Jonas’ ideas of life.”

5. Dec. 1: A. Fábregas Tejeda (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) – “Organismal purposiveness in early 20th century (philosophy of) biology: from ontological principle to explanandum.”

6. Dec. 15: B. Rates (Universidade de São Paulo) – “Heterodox responses to the law of conservation: energy, life and decay.”

7. Jan. 12: cancelled

8. Jan. 26: S. Freyberg (KIM HfG Karlsruhe / visiting fellow of MPIWG Berlin) – “From Gestalt to systems theory: the morphological legacy in organicism and cybernetics.”

9. Feb. 9: A. Vrahmis (University of Cyprus) – “'Moritz Schlick's evolutionary epistemology.”

10. Feb. 23: G. Finkelstein (University of Colorado) – “Haeckel and Du Bois-Reymond: rival German Darwinists”.

11. Mar. 9: J. Steizinger (McMaster University) – “The dark Llgacy of Lebensphilosophie: Erich Rothacker’s path to National Socialism.”

12. Mar. 23: B. Demarest (Heidelberg University) – “Canguilhem on science and its place in Life”

13. April 20: C. Zanfi (Pays germaniques - Transferts culturels, CNRS/ENS Paris) – Homo faber: A Genealogical Inquiry.”

14. May 4: J. Baedke (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) – “Adolf Meyer-Abich’s holism and early 20th century German theoretical biology”

15. May 18: A. Métraux (Archives Poincaré, Université de Nancy) – “Bodies in the body, and their autonomy, or: beyond vitalism”

16. June 1: H. Bajohr (Universität Basel) – ““Hans Blumenberg’s phenomenological anthropology”