Eclecticism and Eclectic Philosophy in the 17th and 18th Centuries

November 4, 2019 - November 5, 2019
ICUB, University of Bucharest; ENS Paris/PSL University; New Europe College



University of Bucharest
École Normale Supérieure

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Eclecticism and Eclectic Philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries

November 4-5, 2019, Bucharest

Organisers: Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest) and Sophie Roux (ENS, PSL University)

The purpose of this conference is to examine the meaning and role of eclectic philosophy and eclecticism in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. Although eclectic philosophy was initially associated with autonomous judgment and freedom of thinking, the term ‘eclecticism’ came to be used in a pejorative way at least from Kant onward. However, central eclectic elements remained highly relevant up to the end of the eighteenth century. In order to shed new light on this approach, the conference adopts three complementary perspectives. First, we aim to analyze the way in which both modern historians of philosophy, including J. Brucker, J. G. Walch and D. Diderot, and present-day scholars conceived of ‘eclecticism’ and ‘eclectic philosophy’ as historiographical categories. Second, we wish to investigate how authors such as J. Ch. Sturm, Ch. Thomasius and the philosophers of the Berlin Academy, to name but a few, explicitly endorsed ‘eclecticism’ and ‘eclectic philosophy’ to characterize their own methodology, and to inquire about the origins of this methodology and its relationship to other related approaches. Third, we will consider Kant’s and Hegel’s critiques of eclecticism and their impact on the Enlightenment. While we will primarily focus on the German and French contexts, we will also take into account contemporaneous European treatments of eclecticism and eclectic approaches in natural philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and methodology. Several relevant case studies will be examined as well.

The conference aims to address (but is not limited to) the following questions: What is the relation between eclecticism, skepticism, and dogmatism? Is eclectic philosophy incompatible with systematic philosophy? How does eclectic philosophy relate to syncretism? Does the natural philosopher have to be an eclectic thinker? How do specific eclectic thinkers elaborate their perspectives? Can the eclectic method be applied to metaphysics? Can we speak of several types of eclecticism (Donini) or advocate a significant difference between the understandings of the term in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Billard)? Is there a specific eclectic philosophy promoted by the Berlin Academy? Does Kant discard the eclectic art of philosophizing altogether or does he take up central eclectic elements under a different name (Hinske)?


Igor Agostini (Salento University, Lecce)

Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest)

Mihnea Dobre (University of Bucharest)

Daniel Dumouchel (Université de Montréal)

Rodolfo Garau (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice)

Christian Henkel (University of Groningen)

Manja Kisner (LMU, Munich)

Mario Longo (University of Verona)

Ansgar Lyssy (LMU, Munich)

Oana Matei (University of Bucharest)

Marta de Mendonça (Nova University, Lisbon, TBC)

Alessandro Nannini (University of Bucharest)

Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (University of Bucharest)

Sophie Roux (ENS Paris, PSL University)

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