CFP: Nature

Submission deadline: February 1, 2013

Conference date(s):
May 4, 2013

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

University of Essex
Colchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


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. We
invite abstracts of around 500 words for presentations of 20 minutes on any
topic related to nature.

Submissions from graduate students working within all traditions of
philosophy are encouraged. Possible questions and topics include, but are in
no means limited to:

  • The distinction between first and second nature in Hegel, Adorno, McDowell and others
  • Nature in early German Romanticism and German Idealism
  • Nature in art; the idea of 'natural beauty'
  • Nature and society
  • The domination of nature and the idea of an environmental crisis
  • Scientific naturalism
  • Naturalism and Humanism: humanity's role within nature, as a part of nature or otherwise; the very idea of a 'human nature'
  • Nature and natural-history in critical theory (especially Adorno)
  • Nature in Marx and Marxism
  • Nature in the phenomenological tradition: Husserl's critique of Gallileo and mathematical natural science; Merleau-Ponty's writings on nature
  • The history of philosophies of nature: nature in Ancient and Medieval philosophy; nature in Spinoza and early modern philosophy
  • Naturalism and skepticism (for instance, the role nature plays in recent debates about transcendental arguments, P.F. Strawson's naturalistic solution)

Please send all submissions to by 1st February 2013. Successful applicants will be notified shortly afterwards.

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