‘Ideas and Enlightenment’ The Long Eighteenth Century (Down Under)

10-13 December 2014
The University of Sydney

David Nichol Smith Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies XV

The DNS conference is the leading forum for eighteenth-century studies in Australasia. It brings together scholars from across the region and internationally who work on the long eighteenth century (1688-1815) in a range of disciplines, including history, literature, art and architectural history, philosophy, the history of science, musicology, anthropology, archaeology and studies of material culture.

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Intellectual History Conference

7-9 April 2015 (provisional)

International society for intellectual history

Past Conferences

Nature and Culture in German Romanticism and Idealism


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UNSW Australia and the University of Sydney
12-14 March 2014

The last two decades can be described as witness to a genuine revival of interest in German romantic and idealist philosophy. Philosophers working in a variety of areas have embraced the ideas of the romantics and idealists, disentangling them from false or misunderstood legacies, and reexamining them in light of contemporary debates. This conference aims to advance this significant historical and philosophical research, by investigating the two most central themes in German idealist and romantic philosophy: nature and culture and their interdependence.

Precisely because of the interdisciplinary character of romanticism and idealism, the conference approaches the two movements from a number of related angles. In the first instance, the goal is to consider how various thinkers from the romantic era conceived nature and culture, and sought to harmonize the sphere of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and the sphere of the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften), which, only some fifty years later, became fully separated. In addition, the conference seeks to investigate the interdisciplinary conception of "Geist" developed during that time, which today can be translated into "mind" as well as its various externalizations as "society", "arts", "institutions", and "culture". In these two ways, the conference will explore the uniqueness of the romantic and idealist views, and consider their potential significance for contemporary debates.

Conference organisers

Heikki Ikäheimo Heikki Ikäheimo (University of New South Wales)
Dalia Nassar (University of Sydney)
Paul Redding (University of Sydney)

Conference sponsored by the Sydney Intellectual History Network (SIHN) at the University of Sydney and the Faculty of Arts and Social Science and the School of Humanities and Languages at UNSW Australia.

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