CFP: Spinoza Stories: Pantheists, Spinozists, Jews, and the Formation of German Idealism

Submission deadline: July 14, 2016

Conference date(s):
November 6, 2016 - November 8, 2016

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Conference Venue:

Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

Topic areas



Spinoza Stories: Pantheists, Spinozists, Jews, and the Formation of German Idealism

Martin Buber Society

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

6-8 November 2016

The Pantheism Controversy was composed of a series of discussions and polemics that took place in Germany towards the end of the 18th century, and whose common denominator was the relationship between philosophy and religion. These discussions generated wildly varying pictures of the thinker whose works sparked the dispute: Baruch Spinoza. These varied pictures – pantheist, atheist, kabbalist, philosophical hero, and dead dog of philosophy – allowed the actors involved in the dispute to define and configure their own viewpoints.

This conference will take these images of Spinoza as its point of departure. By disentangling and exploring them, we will open a neglected point of access to the controversy and its crucial significance for the development of German philosophy and Modern Judaism. The battle over Spinoza’s dead body is less about what Spinoza ‘really said’ than about thinkers trying to find their own voice in a time of intellectual effervescence. Whether loved or hated, rejected or appropriated, Spinoza appeared as a figure every major German thinker had to come to terms with. Their attempts generated images of Spinoza which continue to shape philosophy and religious thought.

We hope to receive a wide variety of papers, but are particularly interested in those that treat one or more of the figures involved in the controversy, and the role Spinoza and Judaism played in their development. Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes in length. We would like discussions to be at the center of the conference, and papers should be written in a way that stimulates debate. Therefore, we request participants to refrain from delivering already concluded investigations and to instead present works in progress. In addition to conventional research papers, the conference will include reading sessions and learning groups.

Topics could include:

×           Studies of the dramatis personae: Mendelssohn, Jacobi, and Lessing’s battle over Spinoza

×           Spinoza and the overcoming of traditional religiosity through the religion of Reason

×           Interpretations of pantheism and atheism in the Pantheism Controversy

×           German readings of Spinozism and kabbalah

×           Spinoza as the entry into philosophy; Judaism as the entry into religion

×           Judaism and pantheism

×           Perceptions of Spinoza: atheist, pantheist, Jew, philosophical hero

×           Anti-Judaism and idealism

×           Beyond German idealism: pre-1848 (Heine, Hess, Marx); Zionism; critical theory

Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words) and queries to [email protected].

Authors will be notified regarding acceptance of their contribution by August 1st, 2016. Applicants are expected to arrange for their own funding for conference participation. Accepted submissions will be considered for publication in a conference volume.

Conference organizers: José María Sánchez de León (Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Dustin Noah Atlas (University of Dayton)

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