Workshop: Tomasello and Religion

Exploring the Philosophical and Theological Relevance of Evolutionary Anthropology.

Since many years, Michael Tomasello has been one of the most influential voices in anthropology. On the basis of ontogenetic research with great apes and infants, he tells a fascinating ‘natural history’ of of core human abilities. A better understanding of the genealogy of these abilities may help to deepen our understanding of these abilities and to further model their anthropological relevance. Tomasello’s research may thus be regarded as an important bridge between empirical and theological/ philosophical anthropology. However, this bridge has not been crossed by many scholars yet: An in-depth reception as well as a critical reception of Tomasello’s insights is yet to be achieved both in philosophical as well as theological anthropology.
The conference aims at bridging this gap by evaluating the prospects and boundaries of evolutionary anthropology. Its central focus is twofold: On the one hand, it attempts to analyse the philosophical foundations of evolutionary anthropology. On the other hand, it asks for the specific role of religion in the evolutionary process. Tomasello himself has not been very outspoken about the human capability of transcendence, so that the conference offers the thrilling opportunity to debate this issue with Tomasello himself for the first time.
The conference proceedings are supposed to be published in a highly renowned international publishing house (e.g. OUP, Routledge, etc.).


Tentative Schedule

Conference Organization:
Dr. Stephan Steiner Catholic Academy Berlin
PD Dr. Magnus Schlette FEST Heidelberg
Dr. Martin Breul Institute of Catholic Theology Cologne

Place: Catholic Academy of Berlin
Date: June, 18th-20th 2020

Call for papers: 47th annual SAAP meeting

The SAAP (Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy) invites papers or proposals on the topic of American Philosophy for their annual meeting in 2020.
While all papers on American philosophy are welcome, some preferences will be given to papers or proposals on „Inter-American-Philosophy“.

Representative topics may include the following:

  1. Past, present and possible future philosophical connections between philosophers and philosophic traditions in different parts of the Americas,
    especially with the Classical American philosophical traditions.
  2. North American and Latin American Philosophy: explorations of the mutual influence of philosophy done in the north and the south or fruitful comparisons of the
    philosophical insights of prominent philosophers on both sides of the continent, including Latinx and indigenous thought.
  3. Examination and elaboration of the important contributions of philosophers in the Americas (e.g., Pragmatism, Mexican Existentialism) to past and present problems
    in the Analytic and Continental traditions.
  4. Philosophers on the common ideals and common socio-political problems of the Americas. For example:
    a) Democracy and decolonialism, its nature, prospects and challenges
    in the Americas;
    b) How philosophy can contribute to the amelioration of the common problems of North and South America.
  5. Philosophical ideas and debates about the identity of the Americas in relation to other nations, regions, and cultures.
  6. Philosophy of technology and science in the Americas, environmental practices and movements throughout the Americas, and Philosophy of Education (including philosophy for children) in and throughout the Americas.

You do not need to be a member of SAAP to submit a paper or proposal via the standard submission tool on the SAAP website. Scholars who are not presently members of the Society, but whose work is in American thought, are especially encouraged to submit.

For further information (funding for graduate students,o requirements for the papers and proposals) see the conference website.

Place: City of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Date: 5-7 March 2020
Deadline: 15 August 2019

Workshop with Prof. Terrence Deacon

Further information: please click the poster for an abstract and details about the workshop organization.
All sections are based on papers or chapters (by Terrence Deacon) that are available for interested participants in advance.

Progamm of the workshop

Please register in advance at: magnus.schlette@fest-heidelberg.de

Location: FEST Heidelberg, Schmeilweg 5, 69118 Heidelberg
Date: 30th March 2019, 10am-6pm

Public Lecture: Terrence W. Deacon


The concept of human nature has been challenged by social scientists because of its inability to clearly delineate the distinction between the biologically inherited and experientially acquired attributes of being human. Yet the very fact of being susceptible to acquired cultural influences irrelevant to other species makes clear that this is an evolutionarily constrained susceptibility. Symbolic processes are the source of the most important and distinctively human acquired influences, and include both linguistically mediated and habitually reproduced social conventions. Susceptibility to these influences arose due to the evolution of neurological adaptations that support symbolic communication and cognition. Although human brains do not include any structures that lack ape homologues, the slight reorganization that made symbolic abilities ubiquitous has also created the possibility for socially transmitted information to radically reorganize mental functions. In this lecture I reanalyze the concept of symbolic reference in order to overcome equivocal and ambiguous uses of the concept that obscure the special nature of these adaptations and thus blind research to the complex bio-cultural interactions that produce some of the most ubiquitous and unprecedented features of being human. These include modifications
of memory functions, emotional experiences, the nature of identity, and the range of mental plasticity.

Location: Marsilius-Kolleg der Universität Heidelberg (Im Neuenheimer Feld 130.1)
Date: March 29th 2019, 6:00 pm
Organized by: FEST and GERPRAGNET in cooporation with Marsilius-Kolleg and Philosophisches Seminar, Universität Heidelberg