Workshop description

The theme of this workshop is the embodiment of pure reason in Kant, Hegel, and related philosophical traditions. Embodiment is a central tenet of a variety of philosophical views according to which the body is nor peripheral or irrelevant to the understanding of mind and cognition. Over the last decade, empirical research on embodied cognition has grown significantly (Thompson & Varela 2001, Noë 2004, Thompson 2007, Clark 2008, Maiese 2010, Colombetti 2013). However, the topic of embodiment is not restricted to contemporary philosophy of mind. The dependence of cognition and agency on the body was not new to the tradition of German Idealism. For instance, Kant grounded the humanity of reason in the distinctly human experiences made possible by the a priori of its sensibility (Ferrarin 2006, Nuzzo 2008). Kant argued that the asymmetry of our body gives us a sense of orientation in space. The use of our left and right hands situate external objects in such a way that an object’s orientation to the left or right is not merely seen but felt from the agent. Hence, the body is a not just a medium to express subjective faculties, but rather the “transcendental form in and through which action becomes real for an acting rational subject” (Nuzzo 2008: 126). Unlike Kant, Hegel did not conceive of human body in terms of a priori capacities. Nonetheless, on Hegel’s account, the body appears from the start as the concrete form of the living subject. Both in the Phenomenology and in the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit, Hegel defends an embodied view of the self that is primarily anchored in habit and habituated behaviour.

Recent years have seen a revival of interest in the topic of embodiment in German Idealism (Waibel, Breazeale & Rockmore 2010, Testa 2014, Howard 2014). However, a number of questions are yet to be addressed. To what extent are transcendental philosophy and embodiment reciprocally connected? What is the place of transcendental reason and in what sense does it ground subjective agency? What is the scope of the a priori as well as of Hegel’s critique of transcendental faculties? The central aim of this workshop is to reassess the place of embodiment by exploring (1) the role of the transcendental and (2) the place of embodiment in Kant and Hegel’s accounts of freedom. The workshop seeks to enrich current research on embodiment as well as to enhance the understanding of Kant and Hegel’s philosophical investigations. Importantly, the workshop will outline the relevance of bodily consciousness in relation to freedom and morality by investigating other related topics such as affectivity, emotions, and habit within related philosophical traditions, including ancient and contemporary philosophy.

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