CFP: The Driving Ideas of the German Enlightenment

Submission deadline: September 27, 2022

Conference date(s):
November 10, 2022 - November 11, 2022

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Conference Venue:

ICUB, University of Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania

Topic areas


Invited speakers: Sebastiano Ghisu (University of Sassari); Christian Leduc (University of Montreal); Laura Anna Macor (University of Verona); Charlotte Morel (CNRS, Paris); Udo Thiel (University of Graz) TBC; Anna Tomaszewska (University of Krakow); Michael Walshots (Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg). Further speakers may be added soon. 

Enlightenment has been labelled in various ways: the ‘century of philosophy’, the ‘century of taste’, the ‘age of criticism’, etc. Undoubtedly, the breakup of the traditional orders of knowledge and the new demands for rationality spawned a remarkable number of ideas and disciplines, either completely new (e.g. the idea of aesthetics or of phenomenology) or profoundly revised (e.g. the idea of "critique" in Kant's system) in the light of novel discursive and social interpretations of the world. An illuminating guide through the complex conceptual geography of this era up to Kant is undoubtedly Norbert Hinske’s ground-breaking essay “Die tragenden Grundideen der deutschen Aufklärung”[1]. Hinske identifies three types of basic ideas (Grundideen) that characterize and drive the philosophy of the German Enlightenment: 1. programmatic ideas (Programmideen), expressing the goals of the Aufklärung, such as ‘thinking for oneself’ (Sebstdenken) and ‘perfectibility’; 2. combat-ideas (Kampfideen), such as ‘confused representations’, ‘prejudice’, and ‘enthusiasm’ (Schwärmerei), against which German enlightened thinkers fight; 3. foundational ideas (Basisideen), expressing the fundamental anthropological convictions which ground their thought, such as the ‘determination’ or ‘destination of the human being’ (Bestimmung des Menschen) and ‘universal human reason’ (allgemeine Menschenvernunft).

This conference aims to build on Norbert Hinske’s typology and promote a critical discussion of his theses, including but not limited to the following topics:

- discuss/develop/revise/reject one or more of the basic ideas Hinske advances;

- advance and analyze other ideas as decisive for the philosophy of the Enlightenment, with or without reference to Hinske’s theses;

- challenge Hinske’s interpretation of the German Enlightenment in this essay (e.g.  the unifying pattern of a small number of fundamental ideas; the specificity of the German Enlightenment; Kant's Mündigkeit as belonging to the same programmatic idea as Eklektik and Selbstdenken).

This call is intended to complement the conference program; about 4 papers will be selected by the conference committee. The language of the conference is English. 

Abstracts of original contributions (no more than 400 words), prepared for blind review, should be sent in word format, as attachment to [email protected] by 27 September 2022. The author’s name and affiliation should be included in the body of the e-mail. The conference papers might be considered for publication. We cannot cover travel and accommodation expenses.

We aim for an in-person conference, the sanitary context permitting. 

Notification of acceptance shall be given by 2 October 2022. 

[1]Norbert Hinske, “Die tragenden Grundideen der deutschen Aufklärung”, in: Aufklärung und Haskalah in jüdischer und nichtjüdischer Sicht, ed. Karlfried Gründer and Natan Rotenstreich, Heidelberg: Schneider, 1990; as well as in: Die Philosophie der deutschen Aufklärung. Texte und Darstellung, ed. R. Ciafardone, Ditzingen: Reclam, 1998 – expanded).

The conference is organized within the research project “Between Truth and Freedom: Enlightenment Answers to 'Thinking for Oneself’” (funded by UEFISCDI; code PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-2579).

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#Kant and German Enlightenment Philosophy