Causa sive ratio: causality and reason in modernity between metaphysics, epistemology and science

November 14, 2017 - November 16, 2017
Department of philosophy, University of Milan

Sala Lauree di Studi Umanistici
Via Festa del Perdono 7
Milano 20122


Stefano Di Bella
University of Milan
Tzuchien Tho
University of Bristol (UK)

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Causa sive ratio: causality and reason in modernity between metaphysics, epistemology and science

Date and Location: 14-16 November 2017, Università degli Studi di Milano (Sala Lauree di Studi Umanistici)


The very advent of modernity in philosophy could be interpreted through the lens of the fundamental redefinition of causality in the ontological, epistemological and logical separation of cause from reason. From the rejection of formal and final causes in the generation of Descartes and Gassendi, the debates on these questions in the period of Hobbes, Spinoza and Leibniz, to the phenomenalization of causation in Hume and its subsequent idealization in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, we can see the definitive conceptual separation between logical implication, epistemic explanation and physical causation. It is this historical conceptual transformation and its present consequences that is the object of this conference. 

What does this separation between cause and reason mean for the role of rationality, the property of intelligibility and the ontology of grounding in the development of metaphysics and the foundations of science in the 17th and 18th century? How do the emergent concepts of the general laws of nature and universally conserved physical magnitudes harmonize the rationality of nature and the uniqueness of causes in a new cosmology? What becomes the status of the self-caused? How does the early modern rejection of formal and final causes return, in other guises, and transform the semantic content of physical theories? How does the identity or distinction of reason and cause continue to inform contemporary philosophy? 

The aim of this conference is to explore the distinction (and relation) of cause and reason from a historical examination of early modern philosophy and science while engaging with the contemporary debates surrounding grounding, causation and scientific explanation. Aside from paper presentations by invited and selected speakers, short reading groups of primary source texts (relevant to the presentations) will be led by conference organizers and invited speakers. 


Adomaitis, Laurynas

Brading, Katherine

Fasko, Manuel

Kochiras, Hylarie

Lyssy, Ansgar, 

Mare, Marin Lucio

Mcdonough, Jeffrey 

Ott, Walter 

Platt, Andrew

Rauzy, Jean-Baptiste

Sangiacomo, Andrea

Organizers: Tzuchien Tho, Stefano Di Bella

Please direct any futher questions to Tzuchien Tho at tzu.tho[atmark]

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