Workshop “Idealism, Realism, Empiricism – Philosophical debates around 1800”


Fri. Nov. 29th & Sat. Nov. 30th

University of Utrecht
Universiteit Bibliotheek (UB)

About the topic

This workshop explores some of the crucial debates that dominated the philosophical scene around 1800. In the wake of Kant’s writings, these debates focused again and again on the question which form philosophy as a whole should take: should it be idealism, starting from the subject and taking this subject as the ultimate basis for claims on reality, as claimed by Fichte, Schelling, or Hegel? Or is the task of philosophy rather, as F.H. Jacobi stated, “to reveal reality”, thereby positing a strong form of realism in opposition with the successful systems of the idealists? What is philosophy’s basis in experience – can Kant’s philosophy be read as a form of empiricism, and how do the various types of philosophy relate to the empirical sciences?

Around 1800, all those big labels with which we continue to characterize forms of philosophical thinking on a very large scale were under debate, and were in continuous development. This workshop brings together international experts from various fields (history of philosophy, literary studies, history of science). It’s aim is to provide, and critically discuss, ideas and methods for investigating this period and the important decisions by which thinkers around 1800 shaped the philosophico-scientific landscape in a way that continues to determine our thinking about philosophy and about science. Ample space will be devoted to discussion and to methodological considerations.

Organizers & target group

The workshop (organized by Paul Ziche in the context of the NWO-project “Thinking classified. Structuring the world of ideas around 1800”) invites senior researches, but in particular also PhD-students and students in Research Master programmes in philosophy, history of science, cultural science, and related fields. It is organized under the auspices of the Dutch Research School Philosophy (OZSW).


Participation is free; ReMa students and PhD students can obtain a certificate for successful participation.

Contact address & registration

To register, please send an e-mail to Suzanne van Vliet <>, and let her know whether you are a ReMa student, a PhD student or a senior researcher.