Revolutions in the Concept of Form

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Thursday, October 29 - Saturday, October 31

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

This conference was a component of a multi-year, interdisciplinary, German-American research project that is investigating the philosophical  assumptions presupposed in the concept of knowledge in what in America are called "the Humanities" (les sciences humaines, die Geisteswissenschaften).

We are especially interested in the kind of formal generality at issue in these disciplines, and the differences between such formality and, for example, the concept of scientific law. Our approach is exploratory, and we begin with no fixed commitments, but our initial orientation assumes that what distinguishes objects of study in the humanities - literature, art objects, music, etc. - is that they are the objects they are by virtue of the self-understanding embodied in these objects, and that humanistic inquiry attempts to articulate the self-understanding and purposiveness that is the basis of the distinct unity of the object themselves.

We are interested both in basic transformations in the history of philosophical thought about these issues, from Plato to Aristotle to Kant to Hegel and many others, as well as in the embodiment of different alternatives of such formal unity in various art works and in critical thinking about these works.

Hosted by University of Chicago faculty, James Conant, Robert Pippin, and David Wellbery.

This conference is associated with the Neubauer Collegium project, The Idealism Project: Self-Determining Form and the Autonomy of the Humanities. Additional support provided by The Franke Institute for the Humanities, The Committee on Social Thought, The Department of Philosophy, The Department of Germanic Studies, and The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on German Literature and Culture.

Conference Schedule:

Thursday, October 29
10:00am Introductory Remarks: Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)

10:15am-12:15pm Matt Boyle (Harvard University): "Essentially Rational Animals"
Moderator: James Conant (University of Chicago)

12:15pm Lunch Break

2:00pm-4:00pm Gabriel Richardson Lear (University of Chicago): "Plato's Form of the Beautiful"
Moderator: Mark Payne (University of Chicago)

4:00pm Coffee Break

4:30pm-6:30pm Andrea Kern (Universität Leipzig): "Kant on Knowledge as Self-Constituting Capacity"
Moderator: David Finkelstein (University of Chicago)

Friday, October 30
10:00am-12:00pm Aryeh Kosman (Haverford College): "Matter and Form in the Being of Animals"
Moderator: Michael Kremer (University of Chicago)

12:00pm Lunch Break

2:00pm-4:00pm Stephen Engstrom (University of Pittsburgh): "Understanding Autonomy: Form and Content of Practical Knowledge"
Moderator: Anton Ford (University of Chicago)

4:00pm Coffee Break

4:30pm-6:30pm Thomas Khurana (Universität Leipzig): "The Life of Form: Practical Reason in Kant and Hegel"
Moderator: Leo Lisi (Johns Hopkins University)

Saturday, October 31
10:00am-12:00pm Michael Fried (Johns Hopkins University): "Gericault's Romanticism"
Moderator: Robert Pippin (University of Chicago)

12:00pm Lunch Break

2:00pm-4:00pm Sebastian Rödl (Universität Leipzig): "The Power"
Moderator: David Wellbery (University of Chicago)

4:00pm-4:15pm Concluding Remarks

4:15pm-5:50pm Reception