Nature and the Philosophy of Nature in German Idealism and Romanticism

June 15-17, 2015, The University of Sydney

Over the last two decades, there has been an immense revival of interest in German romanticism and idealism. Philosophers working in a variety of areas have embraced the ideas of the German romantics and idealists, disentangling them from false or misunderstood legacies, and reexamining them in light of contemporary debates.

In spite of this increase of interest, however, one of the key concerns of romanticism and idealism remains largely overlooked. The idea of nature, the relation between the human being and the natural world, and the notion of a philosophy of nature were, arguably, the most central and definitive concerns of philosophers around 1800. This is evident not only in Kant’s Critique of Judgment, but also in Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, Hegel’s philosophies of nature and history, Goethe’s scientific and methodological writings, Herder’s anthropology and philosophy of science, as well as Friedrich Schlegel’s and Novalis’s theoretical and poetic accounts of the natural world and the human place within it.

This conference aims to shed light on the romantic and idealist concern with nature and the philosophy of nature by posing and responding to the following questions:

  • What is the idea of nature, and what is the relation between nature and
  • What is the meaning of a philosophy of nature?
  • What are the various methodologies by which to approach nature philosophically?
  • How does the philosophy of nature differ from, complement, or develop the accounts of nature offered in the sciences of the time?
    What is the legacy of the romantic and idealist conceptions of nature?

The conference has been made possible through the support of the Australian Academy of the Humanities/The Ernst and Rosemarie Keller Award, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science at the University of Sydney, and the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship of Professor Peter Anstey.

For more information and registration, please visit

Posted: May 26, 2015