Speculative and Experimental Philosophy at the Berlin Academy


International Workshop – IRH-ICUB and New Europe College

June 21-22 2016

Conveners: Tinca PRUNEA-BRETONNET (IRH-ICUB) and Peter ANSTEY (IRH-ICUB & University of Sydney)

 Participants: Peter ANSTEY, Paola BASSO, Henny BLOMME, Sorin COSTREIE, Daniel DUMOUCHEL, Jean-François GOUBET, Ansgar LYSSY, Tinca PRUNEA-BRETONNET, Francesco Valerio TOMMASI


This workshop examines the complementary roles of experiment and speculation in the Berlin Academy, from its renaissance under the leadership of Maupertuis to the end of the eighteenth century. The workshop also aims to analyze the way in which its members participated in the controversies surrounding concepts like ‘experiment’, ‘metaphysics’, and ‘science’ and the contemporary efforts to rethink the task and meaning of philosophy. It will address the following questions. How were experiment and speculation reflected in the Academy’s organisational structure and what roles did they play in the philosophical output of its members? How did its emphasis on observation and experiment mesh with the German metaphysical heritage? To what extent was the Academy a significant actor in the debates of the time? What was its influence on the philosophical issues of the second half of the century? And can we talk about an academic philosophy or an ‘academic spirit’ in the larger context of the German and European Enlightenment?

Speculative and Experimental Philosophy at the Berlin Academy
June 21-22, 2016


Tuesday, June 21 (New Europe College, str. Plantelor 21)

Chair: Jean-François Goubet (Lille/Arras)

10.00 – 10.15: Welcome address
10.15 – 11.15: Peter Anstey (Sydney/Bucharest): The four classes of the Académie
11.15 – 11.30: Coffee
11.30 – 12.30: Daniel Dumouchel (Montreal): Profondeurs de l’âme, états altérés et paradoxes psychologiques: la psychologie empirique appliquée de J. G. Sulzer
12.30 – 13.30: Francesco Valerio Tommasi (Rome): Somatology. Notes on a residual science in the 17th-18th centuries

13.30 – 15.00: Lunch

Chair: Daniel Dumouchel (Montreal)

15.00 – 16.00: Jean-François Goubet (Lille): Examen de la réponse avortée de Lambert à la Preisfrage de 1761
16.00 – 17.00: Henny Blomme (Leuven): J. B. Merian and J. N. Tetens on apperception
17.00 – 17.30: Coffee
17.30 – 18.30: Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (Bucharest/Lyon): From experience to metaphysics: Merian and eclectic philosophy

Wednesday, June 22 (Institute for Research in Humanities, str. Dimitrie Brandza 1)

Chair: Sorana Corneanu (Bucharest)

09.30 – 10.30: Paola Basso (Milan): The “Experimental-Metaphysik” at the Berlin Academy. The odd alliance between experience, mathematics and teleology
10.30 – 11.00: Coffee
11.00 – 12.00: Ansgar Lyssy (Munich): Maupertuis and Euler on the economy of nature
12.00 – 13.00: Sorin Costreie (Bucharest): Wolff’s reception and dissemination of Leibniz
13.00 – 13.30: Concluding remarks


A workshop within the framework of the research project Philosophy between Mathematical Method and Experiment: the Berlin Academy (1746-1764), funded by the Romanian National Council for Scientific Research (PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2522)