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The Absolute and the World in Late German Idealism
26-27 August, 2013

Leacock Building, Room 927
McGill University
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 2T7

Keynote addresses:

  • “The Late Schelling’s Critique of Hegel and Why it Still Matters,” Sean McGrath, Memorial University, author of The Dark Ground of Spirit: Schelling and the Unconscious (Routledge, 2011)
  • “The Non-Existence of the Absolute,” Cem Kömürcü, author (in German) of Yearning and Darkness: Schellings Theory of the Linguistic Subject (Passagen Verlag, 2010)

We open our discussion with a provocation: To what extent, if at all, are we even permitted to call German Idealism an idealism? In contemporary parlance, “idealism” is often associated with the insurmountable necessity of investigating the very possibility of thinking’s access conditions to being, a task that not only leads to their irremovable correlation but also in the process renders meaning dependent upon language or a subject’s constituting or inferential powers, in stark contrast to traditional metaphysics. However, throughout what has come to be known, perhaps somewhat unfortunately, as German Idealism we encounter a series of meditations on the relationship between being and thinking that does not merely problematize such a one-sided conceptionbut, more profoundly, requires us to reconsider whether we are justified in any useful manner to denote this tradition as idealistic rather than realistic.

Responding to Kant’s Copernican revolution, both Schelling and Hegel, in their own way, attempt to overcome the transcendental turn from within. Never rejecting the primacy and role of thinking, they nevertheless refuse to claim that we only have knowledge of phenomenal appearances or that being is dependent upon a subject. Not only must thinking be able to grasp the real in itself, but thinking must simultaneously be able to give an account of its own pre-history out of nature, thereby reconciling itself to the latter, and even mythology. But neither are they solitary thinkers that emerge ex nihilo in the philosophical throes of the Kantian legacy: their own projects are anticipated, foreshadowed, and even in hindsight challenged by Hölderlin, Novalis, and Schlegel, whose theoretical contributions sadly have a tendency to be neglected. Our wager is that these thinkers’ meditations upon the relationship between being and thinking, and their place in an overarching metaphysical system that articulates itself through both moments, represent some of the most original, and daring, attempts to come to terms with the nature of human knowledge, our place in the world, and the status of the absolute, in Western thinking, with wide-reaching implications that have yet to be truly exhausted.

Taking these interrelated concerns as its point of departure, this workshop asks for original and provocative contributions focusing on this topic and other related themes as they occur and are developed in late German Idealism.

Speakers:
Edward A. Beach (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
Clayton Bohnet (Fordham University)
Joseph Carew (McGill University)
Anna Ezekiel (Independent Researcher)
Wesley Furlotte (University of Ottawa)
Tilottama Rajan (University of Western Ontario)
Søren Rosendal (Aarhus University/Humboldt University of Berlin)
Chrisopher Sauder (Université de Paris – IV, Sorbonne)

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