Kant and his German Contemporaries International Conference 2014 About the Conference Kant and his German Contemporaries Home Conference Program Travel and Accommodation Conference Sponsors Contact Us

About the Conference

Immanuel KantKant’s Critical philosophy is among the most ambitious philosophical systems ever developed. Over the course of his three main works — the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason, and the Critique of Judgment — Kant attempts to bring about a fundamental change in our thinking about metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, theology, moral philosophy, aesthetics, and teleology. As befitting a philosophical system of such breadth and sophistication, scholars have typically and rightfully considered the Critical philosophy in relation to the thought of the leading lights of the modern Western philosophical tradition, as addressing for instance, the epistemological and moral scepticism of Hume, the egoism of Hobbes, the intellectualism of Leibniz, the empiricism of Locke, and the idealism of Berkeley.

At the same time, however, scholars have tended to overlook, or minimize the importance of the most proximate context for Kant’s work, namely, the figures and debates of the German Enlightenment of the 18th century. While there can be no doubt that Kant intended to expose the errors of his most illustrious predecessors, it is also clear that throughout his Critical (and pre-Critical) works Kant continually and systematically engaged with the domestic philosophical tradition; from Christian Wolff through to Johann Nicolaus Tetens, the German thinkers of the 18th century constituted the foundation, the primary audience, and ultimately one of the principal targets of Kant’s thought. Consequently, a better understanding of this unfairly overlooked but enormously influential German tradition promises to pay substantial dividends in terms of our comprehension of Kant’s notoriously difficult thought.

Kant and his German Contemporaries will gather a diverse group of scholars for the first time with the explicit aim of composing a comprehensive and authoritative portrait of the influence of the figures and debates of the 18th-century German tradition upon the entire range of Kant’s philosophy. The workshop will bring together an international group of scholars, ranging from emerging researchers to some of the most distinguished Kant scholars and historians of German thought currently active in Canada, the US, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, and Austria. Moreover, reflecting the significance and complexity of Kant’s thought, the workshop will cover a wide array of topics, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, psychology, philosophical theology, logic, philosophy of mathematics, anthropology, and theory of science. Kant and his German Contemporaries will thus be international in its composition and multi-disciplinary in its coverage, bringing together scholars with a wide-range of interests and expertise engaged in a collaborative effort to understand Kant’s thought in light of its context.