The Absolute Idealism of Reception

July 5, 2024 - July 6, 2024
Center for Post-Kantian Philosophy, University of Potsdam

Eberhard Lämmert Saal
Pariser Str. 1
Berlin 10719


  • Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung


Stefani Engelstein
Duke University
Tel Aviv University
Universität Potsdam
Goethe University Frankfurt
University of Sydney
Universität Leipzig
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Universität Potsdam
University of Chicago

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“Reception is artistic, production bureaucratic.” 

(Rainald Goetz, “Absolute Idealism”)

Contemporary thought has seen a remarkable renaissance of “absolute idealism.” While absolute idealism was considered for many years as an obscure and misguided philosophical attitude of the past, marked by exaggerated self-confidence and an empty form self-complacency, it has become again a term of affirmative self-identification. Authors that identify as absolute idealists suggest it defines a superior standpoint that allows us to overcome the endless battles between realism and idealism and finally get the relation of mind and world, self-knowledge and knowledge of nature right.

In developing this stance, the focus of the discussion has clearly been on the importance of the boundless spontaneity, activity, and productivity of the mind. At this conference, we want to explore the idea that this may yield a misguided notion of absolute idealism, nothing more than a hyperbolic form of subjective idealism. Absolute idealism, if there is such a thing, can only become available to us by developing a deeper conception of the mind’s receptivity and its exposure to exteriority and alterity. If there is to be absolute idealism, that is, it must be one of receptivity. 

There are many ways to conceive of this receptivity and many ways to approach its significance, from German Idealism and Romanticism to Phenomenology and Critical Theory, from Metaphysics and Epistemology to Aesthetics and Social Philosophy. The conference aims to bring together a variety of these approaches to raise the open question as to whether exploring its receptive side allows us to develop a deeper, more convincing  form of absolute idealism, or rather forces us to go beyond absolute idealism after all. 

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