Natural Histories of the Human Mind: From Kant to Benjamin

July 4, 2022 - July 5, 2022
Philosophy, University of Potsdam

House 8, Room 0.58
Am Neuen Palais 10
Potsdam 14469


University of Warwick
Tel Aviv University
Universität Potsdam
University of Chicago
Universität Potsdam
University of Pennsylvania

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What does it mean to argue that the human mind can only be understood on the basis of its natural history? It is a common notion that the project of such a natural history aims at a reductive explanation of the human mind. The workshop investigates Kant and the post-Kantian tradition in order to explore a different notion of natural history. According to this Kantian and post-Kantian conception of natural history, it does not involve a reductive or eliminative program, reducing the space of reasons to a space of causes, but rather provides a different account of the possibility and reality of reason.    By drawing on the Kantian and post-Kantian tradition, the  workshop will explore a different sort of naturalism that is neither a reductive naturalism of first nature nor a merely therapeutic naturalism of second nature, but rather a “dialectical naturalism.”  While this dialectical naturalism finds an important point of departure in Kant’s characterization of the double nature of the human being as an “animal but also rational being” (Critique of Judgment, §5), it is only fully developed in Kant’s aftermath in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The project aims to elaborate this tradition of dialectical naturalism from Hegel and Goethe to Benjamin and Wittgenstein and articulate the different ways in which these versions of dialectical naturalism interrelate nature, history and critique.

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June 27, 2022, 9:00am CET

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