Nature

May 4, 2013
University of Essex

Colchester
United Kingdom

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Keynote speakers:

Fiona Hughes
University of Essex
Robert Stern
University of Sheffield

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The literary critic Raymond Williams said of nature that it was “perhaps the most complex word in the language.” Certainly it has figured ambiguously in the philosophical tradition: sometimes identified with everything, sometimes nothing. In Enlightenment, as 'natural philosophy' was gradually transformed into or replaced by mathematical natural science, nature became disenchanted, controlled, ravaged by a humanity who could no longer quite understand how they had a place in it. This itself has had a vast impact on the philosophical tradition: from the early German Romantics to Adorno & Horkheimer and, more recently, John McDowell.

Can we appeal to nature to defeat skepticism? What is nature, is it a useful category? Is there room for any notion of the 'supernatural' (as in: something beyond nature) in philosophy? How should we respond to the ways in which nature has been controlled in Enlightenment? Is humanity meaningfully a part of nature? Is all history also natural-history, or is nature something that we should attempt to supersede? These are just some of the questions that confront us when we attempt to engage with the idea of nature philosophically.

In this conference, we seek to explore these sorts of questions relating to the philosophy of nature understood in the broadest possible sense. 

Contact: pygradc@essex.ac.uk.

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