CFP: Weekly Colloquium for Early Career Researchers - Controversies and Crises in German Philosophy 1860-1914

Submission deadline: September 15, 2022

Conference date(s):
October 6, 2022 - January 26, 2023

Go to the conference's page

This event is online

Conference Venue:

University of Vienna
Vienna, Austria

Topic areas


This weekly colloquium is meant to be a platform for early career researchers working on related topics to meet up weekly and give and receive feedback on their work-in-progress drafts. These include drafts for papers, dissertation chapters, research proposals, etc. Both historical and systematic approaches are welcome. While we have a special focus on the history and philosophy of natural and social sciences, broadly construed, other topics fitting the overall theme are very welcome as well.


In the second half of the 19th century, the discoveries in natural sciences and the institutionalization of the modern social sciences posed a challenge to philosophy. The autonomy acquired by both scientific disciplines left philosophers wondering about the objectives, methods, and limits of their now rebuked discipline: what task remained for them when the positive sciences seemed so proficient in explaining how the world - both the natural and socio-cultural world - works?

Many thought that the objectives and methods in philosophy had to be radically revised to make them consistent with those of empirical or positive sciences. From there on, philosophers had to make use of speculative sobriety and abandon any claim to produce a deductive system of absolute knowledge, at the risk of becoming superfluous.

This redefinition, fanned by the scientific and industrial development in Germany at the time, gave way to multidisciplinary confrontations between natural scientists and philosophers. Among these, to name a few, were the Materialismusstreit (1848-1866) (a quarrel fostered by natural sciences over the epistemological and metaphysical implications of the materialistic worldview), the Ignorabimusstreit (a quarrel propelled by Emil du Bois-Reymond's famous Ignorabimus (1872) over the explanatory limits of the natural sciences regarding the nature of matter and the enigma of consciousness), or the Darwinismusstreit (a quarrel fueled by the democratization of Charles R. Darwin's theories (1859) over the scientific relevance of final cause and the natural selection being a rigorously inferred cause (or vera causa) of evolution).

The social sciences sought to define their identity and methods in relation to the natural sciences. The debates around the methodology and philosophy of the social sciences sparked many controversies. Many philosophers, for example, the southwest neo-Kantians and Wilhelm Dilthey, defended the special status and independence of the human sciences with various arguments. Many methodological debates concerned the possibility of finding abstract and exact social laws governing the historical and cultural realm. Perhaps the best-known of such debates was the 1880s Methodenstreit in economics (the controversy concerned the relationship between abstract theory and the use of history in economics and the social sciences more broadly). Important were also the political and scientific questions stemming from the socialist and communist ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The development of psychology and sociology into independent disciplines likewise sparked methodological and philosophical questions.


The weekly colloquium will take place online each Thursday at 9:00 EDT/EST am 15:00 CEST/CET from October 6th until January 26 (excluding a holiday break). The colloquium is open to:

·        graduate students,

·        postgraduate researchers,

·        junior faculty members and

·        early career researchers.

We ask each participant to send their work-in-progress draft or some other preparatory material a week before their presentation. Each meeting will start with a 20 to 25-minute presentation, after which a 60-minute Q&A/feedback session will follow.

While we envision this as a friendly and informal space, we ask the participants to be ready to commit to weekly meetings and read the paper presented a few days before its presentation.

Topicsmay include (but are not limited) to:

●      Identity Crisis of philosophy and its redefinition,

●      Early history of phenomenology,

●      Early history of analytic philosophy,

●      Early history of experimental psychology and its naturalistic implications,

●      History of classical thermodynamics and atomism in the 19th century.

●      Development of modern logic: from Boole to Frege/Russell

●      Rise of neo-Kantianism,

●      Historicism and philosophy of history,

●      Hermeneutics and the modern Geisteswissenschaften,

●      19th-century aesthetics: Aestheticism, Decadence, and Transcendentalism,

●      19th-century intellectual controversies (such as Materialismusstreit, Ignorabimusstreit, Darwinimusstreit, Methodenstreit, Pessimismusstreit),

●      Issues in other national traditions related to late 19th-century German philosophy.

Submission deadline: September 15th 2022, 11:59 pm (CET).

Submission guidelines: Each abstract submitted should be around 500 words.

Please (i) submit your abstract anonymized for blind review (the name of the file should be the title of your paper); and (ii) include in the email the following information: your name, institutional affiliation, position at said institution, and email address and the title of your paper. Submit your abstract to [email protected] before September 15th, 2022, 11:59 pm CET.

Regarding the selection, we will prioritize the diversity of topics/approaches.

Authors of accepted work-in-progress papers will be notified between September 18th and 24th. Any relevant questions should be directed to [email protected] or [email protected].

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