Dynamics and Reason: A Workshop on Du Châtelet and Kant

Paderborn University and online, 9th–10th February 2023


Despite a recent surge of scholarly interest in Du Châtelet, we are far from adequately understanding many dimensions of her work and its influence. Kant’s relation to Du Châtelet raises particular challenges. He read her work and responded to it in his first publication on “Living Forces.” It remains unclear, however, to what extent he was influenced by other key features of her work, such as her theory of space and time, her distinctive version of idealism, and her account of mathematical objects as partly dependent on our faculty of imagination. There is also the possibility of indirect influence on Kant and his contemporaries, especially via participants in the 1740s ‘monad controversy’ (which Kant engaged with in early works such as the Physical Monadology, ‘Prize Essay,’ and Dreams of a Spirit-Seer).

The Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists at Paderborn University now invites submissions on the work of Du Châtelet and Kant and on historical and conceptual connections between them. We also welcome submissions dealing with the intellectual context of these philosophers, or with connecting figures such as Euler, Maupertuis, Formey, and Kästner. Other fruitful topics include, but are not limited to: the theory of hypotheses; matter theory and infinite divisibility; the nature of fire and imponderable fluids; the historical background to Kant’s Phoronomy; the Kant–Eberhard controversy; and critical responses to Descartes and Cartesianism. Submissions from graduate students, early-career researchers, and underrepresented groups are especially encouraged.

The authors of accepted submissions will be invited to contribute papers to an edited volume, to be published by Springer.

Confirmed speakers so far include:

Emily Carson (McGill University)

Silvia De Bianchi (University of Milan)

Katherine Dunlop (University of Texas, Austin)

Hartmut Hecht (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences)

Please send detailed abstracts (800–1000 words), prepared for blind review, to contact@historyofwomenphilosophers.org. Abstracts should include a short bibliography of up to five representative references. Please supply author name, affiliation, and contact information in the accompanying email.

The extended deadline for all abstract submissions is November 1. Abstracts will be evaluated by blind review. Notifications of acceptance will be made by November 15. Please direct any questions about submissions to Ruth Hagengruber (hagengru@upb.de) or Aaron Wells (wells@mail.upb.de).

The workshop is hosted at the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (director: Ruth Hagengruber), and organized by Ruth Hagengruber and Aaron Wells.

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