CFP: Subjectivity, Selfhood and Agency in the Arabic and Latin Traditions

Submission deadline: February 1, 2012

Conference date(s):
August 15, 2012 - August 18, 2012

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Conference Venue:

Department of philosophy, University of Jyväskylä
Uppsala, Sweden

Topic areas


CALL FOR PAPERS Subjectivity, selfhood and agency in the Arabic and Latin Traditions An international conference on the history of philosophical psychology and moral psychology August 15-18, 2012, Uppsala, Sweden Subjectivity, consciousness, self-awareness, and the intentional aspects of perception and apprehension are popular topics in the contemporary philosophy of mind. A common thread amongst the various approaches to them has been dissatisfaction with the Cartesian paradigm of a self-constituted subject that is perfectly free in its volitions and epistemically transparent to itself, typically presented as standard for the modern age. Working from the opposite end, historians of philosophy and ethicists have noted that ancient and medieval ethics operated in a strikingly different understanding of self. Far from subscribing to the Cartesian notion, pre-modern moral philosophy generally took its cue from the assumption that human selfhood is socially construed. Our instinctive apprehension and evaluation of reality has as much to do with our upbringing as it does with our conscious acts of cognition and evaluation. It is in the Middle Ages that these two lines of thought converge. Historians of philosophy have noted that Descartes’ understanding of subjectivity did not develop in a vacuum; rather, it represents the culmination of medieval debates, which in turn build on ancient precedents. At the same time, the virtue ethics tradition underwent significant transformations, thanks in part to pressures arising from religious and legal considerations. These include a preoccupation with the freedom of choice and one’s culpability for the character one acquires. The present conference invites abstracts for submissions relating to these issues in Antiquity, the Latin and Arabic Middle Ages, and the Early Modern period. Relevant questions to consider are, for example: descriptions and explanations of consciousness and self-consciousness; degrees of self-consciousness; the conceptual shift from soul as the form of the human body to human self; human selves and the divine self; techniques of the self, constructability of the self; social conditioning of human selfhood; and the dual concept of microcosm and macrocosm. The submissions will be allotted 30 minutes for presentation and discussion. An abstract of max. 300 words should be sent for evaluation by January 31st, 2012, to At present, confirmed keynote speakers include Calvin Normore and Udo Thiel. Uppsala is located about 70km north of Stockholm (20-30 minutes from Arlanda airport). The fourth largest city in Sweden, Uppsala is an historical treasure with beautifully preserved monuments from both the pre-Christian and the Christian era. Uppsala University is the oldest in Scandinavia and presently a leading international centre of higher learning and research. The conference is jointly financed by the University of Jyväskylä and Uppsala University, and organized by two research groups, SSALT (Subjectivity and Selfhood in the Arabic and Latin Traditions) in Jyväskylä and Understanding Agency in Uppsala. For all further enquiries, please consult

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