Yes we Kant!

Yes we Kant! Critical reflections on objectivity: its meaning, its limitations, its fateful omissions

Tagung Dr. Emiliano Acosta

In the Crisis of the European Sciences, Husserl points out that scientific objectivity, as it gradually took shape through the modern sciences in the form of a mathematization of nature, rests on a »fateful omission«, the one namely of forgetting to inquire back into the subjective-historical, dynamic and living context out of which it first of all emerged. This omission is of the essence, so he says, because without it, modern science would not have been able to realise what it has until this day. Kant already showed this intimate relation between subjectivity and objectivity. His three Critiques explore the idea that there can be no objectivity without subjectivity, and vice versa, that there can be no subjectivity without objectivity.

Most of the time, Kant has been read from a determinative, constitutive angle, and has as often been turned into a static, detached, and even obsessive thinker. A divergent perspective is proposed here, one that attempts to argue for a more dynamic view on objectivity, one in which objectivity is not seen as ultimately detached and static, but in which it is on the contrary the precarious and ever questionable result of dynamic processes of co-constitution. In this regard, there is certainly much to be learned from Kant’s third Critique, because that is the place where Kant most explicitly deals with the issue of co-constitution, and faces this problem in terms of the ways in which objectification encounters failure or disappointment (Enttäuschung).

The aim of this three-day international workshop is to present and exchange various critical viewpoints on objectivity and subjectivity, and to more specifically focus on the various interpretations of necessity in its relation to contingency. This approach on the matter can find inspiration in Kant’s third Critique, but this source of inspiration should certainly not be considered as the only possible one. Husserl’s gesture to extrapolate the co-constitutive relation between objectivity and subjectivity to history is but one example of objectivity seen from a dynamical, contingently, historically and subjectively grounded background, the life-world. The meeting is open to explore other backgrounds.

To realize that end, we invited speakers from different disciplinary backgrounds – physics, mathematics, biology, human and social sciences, … – and embedded in quite divergent philosophical contexts. This meeting is not in the first place about critically, exegetically, discussing Kant’s texts. Its aim is rather to inquire whether, and in what sense, a return to Kant and to neo-Kantianism can be important to open unsuspected perspectives on objectivity (and subjectivity). We conjecture that this approach can be relevant (i) for a contemporary reading of basic texts in the tradition of transcendental philosophy, (ii) for a conception of objectivity that can have a relevance in current philosophy and in philosophy of science in particular, and (iii) for the development of a transcendental viewpoint in philosophy of science, supplementing and challenging current dominant analytical viewpoints.

Invited and confirmed speakers:
Michel Bitbol (CREA, Paris)
Mario Caimi (Buenos Aires)
Paul Cobben (Utrecht)
Arnaud Dewalque (Uliège)
Arran Gare (Melbourne, Australia)
Jasa Josifovic (Germany)
Hans-Herbert Koegler (Un. Of North Florida)
Koichiro Matsunu (Nagaoka, Japan)
Lenny Moss (Exeter, UK)
Frank Pierobon (Brussels)
Jaco Rivera de Rosales (Madrid)
Norman Sieroka (Zürich, Sw.)
Serguei Spetchinsky (ULB, Berlin)
Joan Steigerwald (York University, UK)
Maarten Van Dyck (Ugent)

Of the Centre for Critical Philosophy: Emiliano Acosta
Liesbet De Kock
Boris Demarest
Anton Froeyman
Filip Kolen
Eli Noé
Frank Rottiers
Gertrudis Van de Vijver
Joris Van Poucke

Scientific Committee: Gertrudis Van de Vijver, Ghent University
Peter Reynaert, Universiteit Antwerpen
Paul Cruysberghs, KUL
Jean Sebas, Université de Liège
Emiliano Acosta, Ghent University

Laufzeit: 15.04.2010 - 30.05.2010
Ort: Ghent-Belgium Centre for Critical Philosophy