Conferences - 2013 Archive

The Enlightenment and the Development of Philosophical Anthropology

4-6 November 2013

The conference focuses on the development of various forms of anthropology in the second half of the eighteenth century, with a special focus on philosophical anthropology, as a distinct discipline that competed with metaphysics, both in scope and aim.

The birth of philosophical anthropology in the mid-eighteenth century and its development well into the nineteenth signaled a fundamental shift – not only did it emphasise the historical character of thought, but it also sought to understand the human being in context, whether biological, cultural-historical, literary or psychological. For this reason, Odo Marquard has termed it one of the “three great epochal shifts” (alongside aesthetics and the philosophy of history) in the history of modern Europe.

The main focus will be on the way in which various forms of anthropology, philosophical (Germany) but also medical (France) both contributed to and challenged the notion of “Enlightenment” in Europe. That the European Enlightenment was a contested ground is well known; however, the fact that anthropology played a fundamental role in its orientation remains an understudied topic.

Many of the papers will focus on the role that Johann Gottfried Herder played in the development of philosophical anthropology, and in examining the debate between him and his former teacher, Immanuel Kant, this conference will be one of the first to address the ways in which philosophical anthropology developed in relation to the larger project of Enlightenment in Europe.

Conference Program

Network participants

  • Stephen Gaukroger
  • Ofer Gal
  • Jennifer Milam
  • Dalia Nasar
  • Anik Waldow

Guest participants

  • Stefanie Buchenau (University of Paris VIII)
  • Nigel DeSouza (University of Ottawa)
  • Michael Forster (University of Bonn)
  • Kristin Gjesdal (Temple University)
  • Narion Heinz (University of Siegen)
  • Charles Wolfe (University of Ghent)
  • John Zammito (Rice University)


By invitation