From Natural History to the Metaphysics of Nature, 18-19 September 2018

‘Vasile Goldis’ Western University of Arad & The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest & The Cultural Centre of Arad

From Natural History to the Metaphysics of Nature

September 18-19, 2018

Venue: ‘Vasile Goldis’ Western University of Arad

Organisers: Oana Matei and Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet

This conference examines the relation between natural history, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, with special emphasis on the role played by metaphysics in the study of nature in the early modern period up to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Key seventeenth-century conceptions by Bacon, Descartes, and the early members of the Royal Society will be discussed together with their earlier roots. Furthermore, the conference aims to elucidate how the project of a metaphysics of nature was articulated in the post-Newtonian era by thinkers like Wolff, Crusius, Maupertuis, and Kant. To this end we will examine the relation between natural history and mathematical physics, on the one hand, and the direction of eighteenth-century metaphysics challenging the autonomy of the ‘new sciences’ and upholding the necessity of a priori first principles in the study of nature, on the other. Raising crucial methodological questions, the conference papers will highlight the redefinition of disciplinary boundaries and analyse novel approaches to the pre-eminence of metaphysics in this period.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

9.30-10.30 Florike Egmond (Leiden) – Drawings that reveal the secrets of nature: visual natural history in the 16th century

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-12.00 Peter Mason (Leiden) – Nature as artist in the Early Modern era. The artistic status of images made by non-human hand

12.00-13.00 Book launch

13.00-15.00 Lunch

15.00-16.00 Sorana Corneanu (Bucharest) – Baconian logic

16.00-17.00 Oana Matei (Arad/Bucharest) – Writing a more methodical natural history. The transition from natural history to the foundation of natural philosophy: merchants of light and lamps

17.00-17.30 Coffee break

17.30-18.30 Marco Storni (Paris/Neuchâtel) – From natural history to speculative biology: Maupertuis and the life sciences

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

9.30-10.30 Tamas Pavlovits (Szeged) – Natural and metaphysical infinity in Descartes

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-12.00 Andreas Blank (Klagenfurt) – Early Modern natural history and the question of confessionalization

12.00-13.00 Alessandro Nannini (Bucharest) – From cognitio naturae to cognitio historiae. The role of historical cognition in Wolffian rationalism

13.00-15.00 Lunch

15.00-16.00 Stephen Howard (Leuven/Bucharest) – Thinking the world-whole: Wolff, Crusius, and the backdrop to Kant’s Antinomy

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

16.30-17.30 Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (Bucharest) – Kant and Reimarus on creation and divine wisdom