The Concept of Human Nature in Early Modern Philosophy, Anthropology and Medicine. International Workshop

Maison de la Recherche, 28, rue Serpente, 75006 Paris, salle D 040
Stefanie Buchenau, EA 1577 Les mondes allemands: histoire des idées et des représentations, Université Paris 8; Claire Crignon, Paris-Sorbonne, UMR 8011: Sciences, Normes, Démocratie; Simone De Angelis, Zentrum für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
05.07.2019 - 05.07.2019
Simone De Angelis

The recent historiography of philosophy and of the sciences displays a growing interest in the dialogue between philosophy and medicine. New attempts are made to overcome the tendency toward the “atomization” of the early modern period and to inquire into longue-durée processes between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
The present workshop takes into account these recent historiographical perspectives in order to explore concepts of human nature and conceptual changes occurring between the late Medieval period and 1800. It examines how the young discipline of anthropology, which was constituted within the disciplinary fields of philosophy, medicine, theology, ethics and natural law during the 16thand 17thcenturies – was further developed and critically discussed between 1670 and 1800. These conceptual changes in anthropology occur within a epistemological shift towards empiricism, around 1700, manifest in the flourishing of the sciences of life, ethnology, natural history, and triggered by new scientific practices and the encounter with non-European cultures. This shift in turn shaped the interpretation of the relationship between nature and history in a more general sense. Within Enlightenment anthropology, a domain combining sciences of life, natural and cultural history, the natural history of man, and the history of humankind, the focus was on the history of the human species as such, and the aim was to explore the civilization process from prehistory to the current day. In this context, questions concerning human upright posture or the natural basis of inner-worldly actions (as well as the interior motives and exterior circumstances determining such actions) arouse. They were discussed not only through the comparison of humans to other living entities and their geographical distribution on earth, but also in the context of a debate on human diversity, race, history and geography. In addition, geology and ethnography (studies of volcanism or of the Chinese people’s history) broke the biblical chronology, which led to new conjectures on the presumed age of the earth and of humanity. These articulations between geographical spaces and historical times, between the present and the past, in turn influenced the concepts of history and the history of humanity as they emerged in the later Enlightenment, and they shaped the historical consciousness of proto-globalised societies in the early modern era. This international workshop will provide us with an opportunity to inquire into the relationship between philosophy and medicine and related disciplines such as physiology, anatomy, psychology, aesthetics, history, geography within the Early modern period and to discuss individual and collective projects on these topics.



9h15 Accueil

9h30 Corey Dyck (London, Western Ontario, CA), Wolff on Human Nature and Anthropology.

10h30 Stefanie Buchenau (Paris 8), Kant’s Dialogue with Platner in the Anthropology.

11h30 Pause-café

11h45 Márcio Suzuki (São Paulo, Brésil), Vital sense and woman sensibility in 18th-century Medicine and Anthropology

13h Pause déjeuner

14h30 Ansgar Lyssy (Munich), Human Origins and the Absence of Paradise in Early Modern Thought

15h30 Simone De Angelis (Graz), Nature and History in Late Eighteenth Century Anthropological Thought

16h30 Pause-café

16h45 Stephen Gaukroger (Sydney, Australie), From Reason to Rationality : the End of Philosophical Anthropology

17h30 Discussion finale


Stefanie Buchenau
Universite Paris

The Concept of Human Nature in Early Modern Philosophy, Anthropology and Medicine. International Workshop, 05.07.2019 – 05.07.2019 Paris, in: H-Soz-Kult, 24.06.2019, <>.
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