Workshop: Imagination in Kierkegaard (and Beyond)

October 17, 2019 - October 18, 2019
Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven

Institute of Philosophy, Leuven

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


Harvard University
Charles University, Prague

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Scope and aims

Recent philosophical developments in studies of imagination, fantasy and mental representation, conducted mainly in the analytic tradition of philosophy, have suggested a return to resources offered by thinkers from the historical-continental tradition. Much attention has been paid to Martha Nussbaum’s reception of Iris Murdoch’s literary imagination, which suggests that imagination can “augment” an ethical framework. Interest has also surged concerning thought of Søren Kierkegaard, a philosopher famous for his synthetic reading of imagination that takes from Kant and the post-Kantian tradition, especially German Idealism and Romanticism. Kierkegaard not only greatly influenced Iris Murdoch, but also thinkers, such as Levinas, who harnessed the phenomenological method in their philosophies.

In this workshop, we further explore philosophical insights with regards to imagination in Kierkegaard and beyond. First, we address some dilemmas about imagination in Kierkegaard in its contemporary reception. Second, we ask about what we learn from imagination in Kierkegaard that is relevant to contemporary debates on imagination in philosophy more generally. Third, we explore parallels between imagination in Kierkegaard and other thinkers before and after Kierkegaard. The workshop features contributions from both established and emerging scholars in the field from five European countries, such as Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, and the Netherlands.


17 Oct. Thursday: Raadzaal, HIW.

16:00  - 16:45 Keynote address: Melissa Fox-Muraton (ESC-Clermont): “A World without Imagination: Consequences of Aphantasia for an Existential Account of Self."

16: 45 – 17:15:Discussion

17: 30 – 19:00 Drinks Salons, HIW.

18 Oct. Friday: Raadzaal, HIW.

  • Session 1

9:00 – 9:30 (30’) Jakub Marek (Charles University): “How Deep Is Your Imagination? On the Constitution of the 'Synthesis' in Kierkegaard's Philosophy

9:30 – 9:45 Response (15’) Tatiana Badurova (Charles University).

9:45 – 10:15 Discussion (30’)

10:15 – 10:45 Coffee break (30’)

  • Session 2

10:45 – 11:15 Liesbet Samyn (KU Leuven): “A little taxonomy of imagination in Kierkegaard. The annihilating capacity of imagination”

11:15 – 11:30 Response: Wojciech Kaftanski (KU Leuven)

11:30 – 12:00 Discussion 

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch break (1h)

  • Session 3

13:00 – 13:30 Rob Compaijen (PThU Amsterdam): “Imagination and Fantasy in Ethical Life

13:30 – 13:45 Response: William Desmond (KU Leuven)

13:45 – 14:15 Discussion

14:15 – 14:45 Coffee break (30’)

  • Session 4

14:45 – 15:15 Martijn Boven (Groningen/Leiden): “Speaking through silence: figures of the incognito in Fear and Trembling”

15:15 – 15:30 Response Luciano Perulli, (KU Leuven

15:30 – 16:00 Discussion

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break (30’)

  • Session 5

16:30 – 17:00 Viktoras Bachmetjevas (Levinas Centre/LSMU): “Imaginary Construction and Lessons in Living Forward

17:00 – 17:15 Response Nicola Spano (KU Leuven)

17:15 – 17:45 Discussion

The event is free of charge and no registration is required.


Wojciech Kaftanski (KU Leuven/Belgium).

Contact person: Wojciech Kaftanski ([email protected]

This workshop is supported by Husserl Archives: Center for Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy (HUA, KU Leuven); Centre for Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Culture (CMPRPC, KU Leuven) and Charles University Prague.

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