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The Roles of Fiction in Early Modern Philosophy (Interdisciplinary Conference)


Friday, April 17, 2015 to Saturday, April 18, 2015
CMU 202, CMU 120

The departments of Germanics and Philosophy at the University of Washington, in conjunction with the Simpson Center for the Humanities and the Pamela Saari Fund, are pleased to host an interdisciplinary conference on the topic of fictions and early modern philosophy.

One central trope of early modern philosophy and natural science was the rejection of fictions, like so-called "feigned hypotheses," and the focus on empirically observed phenomena. Yet, even as philosophers rejected the abstract notion of a fiction, they still relied upon fictions and narrative models in fundamental ways.  

Participants in this conference will examine this tension and look at both particular philosophers--such as Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Hume, and Kant--and general themes, including the conception of fiction itself, the use of fiction in producing metaphysical knowledge, the use of fictions as examples in moral theory, and scientific models as kinds of fictions. We also intend to consider how philosophy was used in fiction, both in the period itself and then later, as in the case of the novelist George Eliot.

Details can be found on the conference website:

Fiction and Philosophy Conference

Rüdiger Campe (Chair, Department of German, Yale University) will deliver the keynote address during the normal time for Germanics lectures (Friday, 1:30pm) in CMU 120.

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