CFP: [18th] Edmund Burke Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Funk Deckard

Call for Papers

The Science of Sensibility
Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry:
250 Years Later

Conference at the Institute of Philosophy (University of Leuven, Belgium)
17-18 December 2007

Attracting philosophers, politicians, artists as well as the educated
reader, Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry, first published in 1757, was a
milestone in western thinking. This conference will take the 250th
anniversary of the Philosophical Enquiry as an occasion to reassess Burke's
prominence in the history of ideas. Situated on the threshold between early
modern philosophy and the Enlightenment, Burke's oeuvre combines reflections
on the arts, politics, history, emotions and the sciences.

            The first text to bring the idea of the sublime into philosophy,
working from Locke's 'way of ideas' and expanding upon Humean 'passions',
Burke built an empirico-psychological philosophy that delved into the
complex mixture of pleasure and pain, delight and terror. Burke developed
his thought at a time when a "science of sensibility" had firmly taken root
in English culture. Physicians and natural philosophers had studied the
physiology of the body and the senses, and these results had been connected
to the aesthetic sensibility of literature and art. Burke's reversal of the
Enlightenment philosophy of Reason was based on this 'science of the
passions' and claimed primacy for the emotions and imagination over reason.

            Aspiring to follow the Newtonian method, Burke studied the
diversity of passions and sensibilities on which to build philosophy,
aesthetics and society. The connection between Burke's politics and
aesthetics has been well addressed, but the extent in which Burke drew on
contemporary scientific ideas goes virtually unstudied. The historical
context of Burke's work will be one focus of the conference. For instance:
How was the Philosophical Enquiry situated in relation to his contemporaries
as well as Burke's later political thought? Besides tackling the historical
context of the Philosophical Enquiry, this conference will enquire into how
his text might be re-read and used as an exemplar of 'philosophical enquiry'

            Influencing and intriguing to both the left and the right,
whether discussing grief, darkness, the infinite, or a non-imagistic theory
of language, all within a speculative and scientifically representative core
in which he famously differentiated the sublime from the beautiful, Burke
shook the foundations of Enlightenment thinking, further emphasizing
tradition and experience over reason and abstraction.

        Confirmed Speakers:
        Steffen Ducheyne (Gent)
        Luke Gibbons (Notre Dame)
        Ian Harris (Leicester)
        F.P. Lock (Queens University, Kingston)
        Herman Parret (Leuven)
        Dario Perinetti (UQAM, Montreal)
        Baldine Saint Girons (Paris)
        Bart Vandenabeele (Gent)

We invite papers dealing with Burke's thought in a critical or historical
way. In particular, we are keen on receiving proposals for papers on
situating the Philosophical Enquiry within its own immediate context,
especially concerning other political, scientific, theological or literary
texts written between 1690-1760 (such as those of Le Brun, Newton, Locke,
Boileau, Dennis, Le Clerc, Crousaz, Swift, Vico, Du Bos, Mandeville, Toland,
Shaftesbury, Cheyne, Addison, Clarke, Bolingbroke, Young, Berkeley, Silvain,
Law, Baillie, Pope, Montesquieu, Butler, Hutcheson, Voltaire, Kames,
Hogarth, Warburton, Blackwell, Hartley, Harris, Johnson, Lowth, Hume, Pyra,
Sulzer, Hurd, Akenside, Warton, Price, Lawson, Gerard, Mendelssohn, etc.).
In addition, papers concerning Burke's Vindication of Natural Society, Essay
Towards a History of the Laws of England, Hints for an Essay on the Drama
and Annual Register are particularly welcome.

Abstracts of between 300-500 words in either Microsoft Word or PDF should be
sent by email to no later than 30 September 2007. Please include
personal information (name, university, position) along with the abstract. It is foreseen that the
proceedings of this conference will be published.

Conference Committee: Arnold Burms, Paul Cruysberghs, Michael Funk Deckard,
Danielle Lories, Koen Vermeir.

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Received on Tue Aug 14 2007 - 07:33:52 EDT