The Entwinement of Logic and Life

September 12, 2023 - September 14, 2023
Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, University of Ghent


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  • FWO Research Foundation Flanders


Università degli Studi di Trieste
University of Ljubljana


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Ghent University
Ghent University
Ghent University
University of Ghent
Université de Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

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The Centre for the History of Philosophy and Continental Philosophy (HICO) at Ghent University is pleased to invite doctoral students and early postdoctoral researchers in philosophy to present papers on the entwinement of ‘logic’ and ‘life’ in German idealism and its intellectual legacy.

The concept of ‘life’, regardless of its theoretical complexity, perhaps needs very little additional association beyond organicity, self-organizing beings or systems, teleology in nature, etc. By ‘logic’, however, we intend first and foremost the premodern and modern philosophical study of ‘thinking as such’, which focuses not only on sound reasoning but also on the various activities and forms of thinking (understanding, judgment, reason, …) in relation to epistemological or metaphysical issues. It is above all from this point of view that we want to investigate the relationship between logic and life. However, although we start from this older, broader conception of logic, we cannot help but be equally excited about contributions investigating logic’s relation to life from the standpoint of contemporary conceptions of logic.

More in particular, the workshop concentrates on the way in which the intertwinement of logic and life has been thematized by Immanuel Kant (and Post-Kantian philosophies), the German Idealists (Hegel, Schelling, ...), and the Romantics (Goethe, Hölderlin, ...). However, we also strongly welcome papers on other philosophical traditions whose thematization of the logic-life relation either contributed to (Aristotle, Spinoza, …) or commented on (Nietzsche, Bergson, ...) said intertwinement in the late 18th, and early 19th century.

Our workshop is inspired in part by Georges Canguilhem’s 1966 essay on ‘The concept and life’ (‘Le concept et la vie’). In this remarkable text, the French philosopher sketches the immensely rich historical development of the relations between ‘the concept’ and ‘life’, from Aristotle to Kant, Hegel, and beyond. During the workshop, one session (coordinated by Charles Wolfe) will be devoted to an informal group discussion of this text, an English version of which (prepared by Giulia Gandolfi and Levi Haeck) will be shared with the participants.

Participants will be able to present to each other (and to the keynote lecturers) in slots of 45 minutes (20 minutes presentation + 25 minutes Q&A). We especially welcome submissions from groups underrepresented in the profession.

This (by no means exhaustive) list of suggestions indicates the type of topics we hope to explore during this workshop:

  • The logical dimension of Naturphilosophie
  • Idealist conceptualisations of life, e.g. life as ‘the form of the form’ in Hegel
  • The connection between transitivity in syllogisms and the genus/species distinction in biology
  • Romantic logic and empiricism
  • Life, concept and the end of Hegel’s Logik
  • The reciprocity between philosophy and the life sciences
  • Naturalization of logic, e.g. the innateness of categories of the understanding
  • (Anti-)naturalism and (anti-)psychologism, e.g. the bearing of the logicism-psychologism debate
  • The organon and its philosophical history
  • The relation between epigenesis, logic and the categories of the understanding/apperception
  • The connection between language (speech, hearing, semiotics, …) and thought, e.g. Herder, Hamann
  • Teleology and organicity of mind and reason, e.g. Schelling’s organic Absolute
  • The position of logic in the (continental) vitalist tradition 

Anonymized abstracts of up to 500 words (excluding bibliography) should be sent to [email protected] by June 1st. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the review by July 1st.

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June 1, 2023, 11:45pm CET

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