Natural Histories of the Human Mind
From Kant to BenjaminJuly 4-5, 2022 University of Potsdam
Foyer I (0.60), House 8
Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam
What does it mean to argue that the human mind can only be understood on the basis of its natural history? It is a common notion that the project of such a natural history aims at a reductive explanation of the human mind. The workshop investigates Kant and the post-Kantian tradition in order to explore a different notion of natural history.
By drawing on the Kantian and post-Kantian tradition, the workshop will thus explore a different sort of naturalism that is neither a reductive naturalism of first nature nor a merely therapeutic naturalism of second nature, but rather a “dialectical naturalism.” While this dialectical naturalism finds an important point of departure in Kant’s characterization of the double nature of the human being as an “animal but also rational being” (Critique of Judgment, §5), it is only fully developed in Kant’s aftermath in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The project aims to elaborate this tradition of dialectical naturalism from Hegel and Goethe to Benjamin and Wittgenstein and articulate the different ways in which these versions of dialectical naturalism interrelate nature, history, and critique.
Sketch by Johann Lindner of Mönchburg, in: Aristotle, De Anima, Leipzig, 1472–4, MS 55, f.93. Wellcome Collection, London