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23.03.2019 15:38 Alter: 63 days

Structuring Nature

Call for Applications

Theme: Structuring Nature
Type: Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Summer School
Institution: Humboldt University of Berlin
  Free University of Berlin
  Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Location: Berlin (Germany)
Date: 28.7.–3.8.2019
Deadline: 15.5.2019

Does the structure of nature inform the structure of our knowledge of
nature, or do our own (artificial) divisions of science affect the
way in which we divide the natural world?

Questions concerning the structure of nature, and the structure of
our knowledge of the natural world have long occupied philosophers
and scientists working in the Western tradition, up until the present
day. Especially in the ancient, medieval and early modern periods,
Greek, Arabic, and Latin writers have developed a variety of
approaches to construct ordered, rule-based frameworks to divide and
study nature in all of its complexity.

As a result of enduring interest and continual developments, in both
theoretical and practical knowledge of nature, various thinkers from
these traditions have introduced novel criticisms to these systems,
and others have shown through experiment and observation that
long-standing preconceptions about the natural world, and our
knowledge of it, do not stand up to scrutiny.

Over the course of one week, this interdisciplinary summer school
will provide a conspectus of some of the many historical and modern
problems associated with any attempt to formalise boundaries between
minerals and other inert substances, plants, animals, and humans. It
will also consider how some thinkers pushed the epistemological
limits of natural science, attempting to fit new abstract theories
and mathematical approaches to the study of the natural world.

“Structuring Nature” brings together a wide range of experts from
ancient and medieval philosophy, classical philology, and the history
of science, whose research addresses these problems in a number of
language traditions, across a wide historical range. These experts
will introduce students to the foundational thematic and
methodological reflections on the structures of nature from antiquity
to early-modern philosophy and science.

By bringing together historians of the scientific and philosophical
traditions that have developed on the shores of the Mediterranean
Basin, the summer school will provide the students with a unique
opportunity to appreciate the historical contingencies of approaches,
methods, and perspectives in the human attempts at understanding the
structure of nature. In the closing discussions of each day, students
will have the opportunity to critically reflect on ways of combining
different methods and approaches that may eventually overcome current
fragmentations and departmentalisations in the academy.

Application Process

Graduate and undergraduate students are welcomed to apply. Interested
students must submit an updated CV and a short cover letter
describing their research, methods, and aims by 15 May 2019 at the
following email address:

Applicants who plan on applying for external funding should specify
that on their applications. 

Price and Attendance

Attendance to the summer school is free. Students whose application
is successful are meant to participate to the entire length of the
summer school and to give a talk at the final workshop. Exceptions
can be made in consideration of qualified reasons. Participants will
be provided with a certificate of attendance (or, upon request, any
other paper certifying her/his attendance) at the end of the summer
school in order to allow students a positive recognition of credits
from their home institutions.

Please note that the organising institution will not offer meals or
lodging to the participants. Students are therefore invited to apply
to funding and studentships at their home institutions.

Participants will be updated about changes to the programme via
email, but they are also invited to consult the summer school webpage
at the following link:

For any further question, you can reach the organisers at the
following email address:


The summer school is organised by Nicholas Aubin (HU Berlin),
Vincenzo Carlotta (HU Berlin), Mattia Cipriani (FU Berlin), Katja
Krause (MPIWG), Nicola Polloni (HU Berlin).


Dr Nicola Polloni
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Philosophie
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin