Call for Papers
Theme: Kyoto in Davos
Subtitle: The Question of the Human from a Cross Cultural Vantage
Point Type: International Conference
Institution: Institute of Philosophy, Hildesheim University
Location: Hildesheim (Germany)
From Ralf Müller <email@example.com>
The international conference, “Kyoto in Davos,” to be held in
Hildesheim, Germany, returns to the well-known 1929 Davos disputation
between Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
that focused on the central question of Kantian philosophy “Was ist
der Mensch?” and considers what directions the debate might have
taken had Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945) – or any of the other members of
the Kyoto School or thinker from Japan – been present.
With this question, Kant outlined the field of philosophy in its
“cosmopolitan importance.” And while Kant’s cosmopolitanism was
progressive and an expression of the best of the Enlightenment, such
a cosmopolitanism cannot but appear to us today as Eurocentric. It
has become essential to critically reflect on the cultural bias of
our understanding of the human. Max Scheler, in his 1928 book, *The
Human Place in the Cosmos*, explicitly begins from the point of view
of a “well-educated European” and thus from a clearly stated cultural
bias. Returning to the Davos disputation, we ask to what degree the
debate between Cassirer and Heidegger was dominated by a Eurocentric
bias and how the philosophical account of the human would have
unfolded had a culturally other voice been part of the debate.
Thus, the conference seeks to imagine a counter-factual confrontation
(Auseinandersetzung) between Cassirer, Heidegger, Nishida, and other
Japanese philosophers and to rethink, both historically and
systematically, the nature of the human: What role does culture and
religion play in Philosophical Anthropology? And to what extent does
the plurality of cultures and religions contradict the perspective of
universalism largely assumed by Philosophical Anthropology today? And
how can other philosophical traditions broaden our understanding of
the human and challenge the dominant models of essentialism,
naturalism, culturalism, and existentialism?
Within this framing of the question, we suggest furthering the
discussion at Davos within three thematic fields:
1. Historical and systematic contextualization of philosophical
anthropology and the question of the human:
- What are the parallels in Japanese and German philosophical history
from the 1910s to the 1930s?
- What role do neo-Kantianism and Lebensphilosophie play in Germany
and Japan at the beginning of the 20th century?
- What can the Kyoto School and other streams contribute to
- What are the repercussions of the multi-cultural view of the human?
2. The repetition, appropriation, and transformation of Kant and
- What is the importance of Kant, neo-Kantianism and philosophical
anthropology for the development of early Japanese philosophy?
- What is the importance of early Japanese philosophy to our
understanding of Kant and the post-Kantian philosophy?
3. The Crisis of Human Self-Understanding and the Kantian Question
Across Cultural Difference:
- Given the interconnection between language and understanding, what
does it mean to translate philosophical language, specifically such
terms as *Mensch*, human, 人間, from one culture to another?
- Can we translate Kant’s question of the human from Western to
Eastern tradition, from the past to the present?
- What were the conditions for translating the Western philosophical
discourse into Japanese and rendering it understandable? Is it
possible to translate Japanese philosophical discourse back into
- Are there limits to understanding?
- How does the limits of linguistic or cultural translation offer us
new systematic insights into the question concerning the human?
We invite abstracts for proposed papers (250 word maximum) that
explore some aspect of the thematic fields outlined above.
The invited speakers and guests include:
Eric Nelson (Hong Kong), Steve Lofts (London, Canada), Ralf Becker
(Landau, Germany), Sascha Freyberg (Venice, Italy), John Maraldo
(Florida, USA), Bret Davis (Baltimore, USA), Gregory Moss (Hong
Kong), Fernando Wirtz (Kyoto, Japan), and Jörn Bohr (Wuppertal).
Deadline: March 15th 2020.
All abstracts should be sent to: