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17 - 19 August 2018

24th World Congress of Philosophy, Beijing

Conference | all-day | International Federation of Philosophical Societies ( FISP), Chinese Organizing Committee, Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists


Invited Session 17 / 18

The World Congress of Philosophy is organized every five years by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP) in collaboration with one of its member societies, this year in cooperation with the Chinese Organizing Committee. The 24th World Congress will be held in Beijing, China, from August 13 to August 20, 2018, and focus on the topic “Learning to be Human”. The congress addresses global issues across disciplines and cultures by taking past and present thinkers into consideration and reflecting critically on the role of philosophy in the contemporary world and how it can contribute to public discourses.

The Center for the History of Women Philosophers is featured in the Invited Sessions 17 and 18. Speakers are:

Mary Ellen Waithe (USA), Karen Green (AUS), Gianni Paganini (IT), Katarina Karpenko (UKR), Ruth Hagengruber (G)

Talks will be held on:

Friday, August 17th, 2018, 04:10 pm – 06:00 pm and Sunday, August 19th, 02:00 pm – 06:00 pm


August 17, Friday Room 407 CNCC

4:10pm – 6:00pm I 080017

Speakers: Karen Green, Gianenrico Paganini, Ruth Hagengruber

Karen Green, Australia, University of Melbourne

On some footnotes to Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s Vindication of an Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Two footnotes added to the version of Catharine Cockburn’s Vindication of an Essay Concerning Human Understanding(1702) reprinted in her Works (1751) have led to various accusations, including that she was confused and an inadequate interpreter of Locke’s moral epistemology. In particular, it is claimed that she did not recognize the gulf that separated her own intellectualist and internalist views from Locke’s more voluntarist and hedonistic position. This paper defends Cockburn’s interpretation of Locke, arguing that the evidence for Locke being a voluntarist and hedonist is not compelling, and that Cockburn’s interpretation of his moral epistemology is well grounded in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Gianni Paganini, Università del Piemonte (Vercelli, Italy)

“Hypotheses fingo”! Emilie Du Châtelet’s Revolution in the Enlightenment Epistemology

 The beliefs of philosophers of science about the nature of scientific inference underwent a profound shift between the time of Descartes and Newton. Probably most prominent here were the fortunes of the method of hypotheses. Frequently espoused in the middle of the 17th century by Descartes, Boyle, Hooke, Huygens, and the Port-Royal logicians, the method of hypothesis fell into disfavor at Newton’s time. The most important factor that acted on this decline was Newton’s deep commitment to having the empirical world serve not only as the ultimate arbiter, but also as the sole basis for adopting provisional theory. This is the meaning of his caveat: “hypotheses non fingo”.

In a famous work, Science and Hypothesis, Larry Laudan pinpointed an “about-turn, which effectively constitutes the emergence of philosophy of science as we know it today” only in the Thirties and the Forties of the nineteenth century when Comte, Herschel, Whewell, Dugald Stewart, and partly Stuart Mill conceded that the method of hypothesis had a vital role to play in scientific inference.

Unfortunately, Laudan and many others until now did not realize that the real turning point in the history of epistemology happened much earlier, as it was represented by the chapter on “Hypotheses” contained in the Institutions de physique of Emilie du Châtelet, first published in 1740. This work and especially this chapter marked the very beginning of the readmission of hypotheses into the epistemology of the Enlightenment and the discovery that theories are not reducible to the experience; they rather are underdetermined by the experience, against the pretension of a total empiricism.

We can pinpoint three basic assertions that characterize Emilie’s’ stand on this matter. First, she thought that one should not “banish” hypotheses from science owing to the bad use made by the Cartesians. Second, Du Châtelet emphasized the heuristic function of hypotheses. Third, the Institutions de physique came back to astronomy as the best example of the good use of hypotheses in science.


Ruth Hagengruber, Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, Paderborn University, Germany

 Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749). Philosopher of European Enlightenment. Transformer of Metaphysics.

 Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) was an outstanding member of the scientific community of her time. She rebutted main ideas of Voltaire, Locke, Newton and Leibniz, and presented her own conclusions in a broad range of philosophical works. Her epistemic breakthrough is to be found in her examination of the extended world and in her reflection on the mental constitution of space. This presentation introduces her as a strong metaphysician and as an important predecessor of Kant’s transcendental philosophy.


August, 19 Sunday Room 208 B CNCC

2:00pm – 6:00pm I 080018

Speakers: Katarina Karpenko, Mary Ellen Waithe, Ruth Hagengruber

 Katarina Karpenko Director of the Center for Gender Studies, Professor of the Philosophy Department, Kharkiv National Medical University, (Kharkiv, Ukraine)

Women’s discourse in Ukrainian philosophy

Within the field of Ukrainian philosophy, women’s discourse is dedicated to expand the very scope of intellectual inquiry, especially in the realms of the philosophy of everyday life and political philosophy. This contributed to denaturalizing of such major categories as the nation, and encouraged philosophers to consider asymmetry, hierarchy and subordination in gender relations as a product of culture rather than natural quality given once and forever. These characteristics are the subjects of changes over time as the objects of intense social and political struggle.

An important legacy of Ukrainian culture is a set of unique philosophical ideas reflecting the specifics of national spirituality. The study of folk art, the description of the most vivid historical epochs and of the analysis of the inputs of the most significant female representatives of the nation are the main approaches to identification of the content of women’s discourse in the history of Ukrainian philosophy. Women’s discourse cannot be focused exclusively on women’s issues of liberation from patriarchal guides and superstitious stereotypes. The visions of modern woman-philosophers are the active developmental forces with a clearly identified national character.

Mary Ellen Waithe, Cleveland State University, USA & Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, Paderborn University, Germany

Women in the History of Non-Western Philosophy

I will offer PowerPoint presentation introducing some women philosophers from non-western traditions who lived prior to the modern period. Women from Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian traditions will be featured with portraiture, information about their writings and teachings, and the current state of feminist scholarship about their contributions to philosophy.

Ruth Hagengruber, Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, Paderborn University, Germany

 Retracing Antiquity. How Women Philosophers Re-constructed their History.

This presentation offers an introduction into the thoughts of women philosophers, starting with the Renaissance and quoting examples till present. Its methodical path is to provide answers to the question how women philosophers tackled history and antiquity. My thesis is that retracing ancient women philosophers had the necessary and functional role to legitimate their own intentions and to create a realm of independence that was denied in their actual lives. The aim of this talk is to inspire all interested women from various traditions to retrace their tradition and hereby manifest their own path of thoughts and ideas.



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