Category Archives: Philosophy

[Conference + Art] Innovate Heritage “Art & The City”

Innovate Heritage 2016 „Art & The City: New Cultural Maps“

27th-28th of October 2016 at the School of Architecture, Mediterranea University.

Polyhedra is proud to present its project with the Università degli Studi Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria: the first satellite edition of Innovate Heritage!


The two-day workshop „Art & The City: New Cultural Maps“ explores intuitions, approaches, views and actions from different perspectives and cultures, facing questions and dilemmas related to heritage management and governance in multi-cultural urban and metropolitan frameworks.

The discussion will focus upon the radical change affecting society and the economy, and transforming the cultural paradigm from a competitive and dimensional struggle into a participative and synergic challenge, with new needs to cross-fertilise tradition and innovation.

Economists, urbanists, jurists, architects, philosophers and artists will perform an intensive and nonprejudicial exchange aimed at crafting sharp questions and drawing credible trails to our future, in the awareness of the growing importance of art and culture in social dynamics.

download the programme
The event will be filmed and videos soon available!

If you would like to host a satellite edition of Innovate Heritage, please get in contact at

[Essay Prize 2017] What is structure?

Ingrid Ogenstedt, Mushroom Book 2, Pencil drawings on paper, 2014, 59 x 84 cmIngrid Ogenstedt, Mushroom Book 5, Pencil drawings on paper, 2014, 59 x 84 cm










The Metaphysics of Entanglement Project, University of Oxford

The Metaphysics of Entanglement Project is pleased to announce their 2017 Essay Prize. The winner of the Prize will receive £250.

Topic: What is structure?

The concept of structure is central to contemporary debates in many areas of philosophy. In the philosophy of science, structural realism has (re-)emerged as a possible middle ground between realism and antirealism. Ontic structural realists take this position to support a fundamental ontology of structure alone, and have claimed additional support from metaphysical issues in physics. In metaphysics, there has been a growing interest in structure and related issues of fundamentality and identity. Structuralist approaches to ontology—according to which structure is fundamental—have been applied to causation, identity, and the project of metaphysics more broadly.

We solicit philosophically informed papers addressing the nature of structure in con- temporary analytic philosophy. We are particularly (but not exclusively) interested in work that addresses the debates mentioned above: For instance, ontic structural realists contrast their structuralist ontology with traditional pictures that comprise objects bearing properties. But how can structure be understood so as to provide an alternative to object-based ontology? Structuralists in metaphysics claim that certain entities are less fundamental than structures. How are we to understand such claims about the fundamentality of structure?


In assessing entries, priority will be given to originality, clarity of expression, breadth of interest, and potential for advancing discussion. Papers should be under 8,000 words and anonymized for blind refereeing. Submissions are invited from postgraduate students and from early career researchers (understood as being within 8 years of receipt of PhD, though exceptions will be considered—please email for advice in the latter case).

The closing date for receipt of entries is 16 December, 2016.


Ingrid Ogenstedt, Mushroom Book1, Pencil drawing on paper, 2014, 59x84cm

Outside Color: Perceptual Science and the Puzzle of Color in Philosophy [book suggestion]

Ouside Colour_cover


Is color real or illusory, mind independent or mind dependent? Does seeing in color give us a true picture of external reality? The metaphysical debate over color has gone on at least since the seventeenth century. In this book, M. Chirimuuta draws on contemporary perceptual science to address these questions. Her account integrates historical philosophical debates, contemporary work in the philosophy of color, and recent findings in neuroscience and vision science to propose a novel theory of the relationship between color and physical reality.

Chirimuuta offers an overview of philosophy’s approach to the problem of color, finds the origins of much of the familiar conception of color in Aristotelian theories of perception, and describes the assumptions that have shaped contemporary philosophy of color. She then reviews recent work in perceptual science that challenges philosophers’ accounts of color experience. Finally, she offers a pragmatic alternative whereby perceptual states are understood primarily as action-guiding interactions between a perceiver and the environment. The fact that perceptual states are shaped in idiosyncratic ways by the needs and interests of the perceiver does not render the states illusory. Colors are perceiver-dependent properties, and yet our awareness of them does not mislead us about the world. Colors force us to reconsider what we mean by accurately presenting external reality, and, as this book demonstrates, thinking about color has important consequences for the philosophy of perception and, more generally, for the philosophy of mind.

About the Author

M. Chirimuuta is Assistant Professor in the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

find out more…

Infinite Idealizations in Science [CFP]

8-9 June, 2016 · LMU, Munich

Infinite idealizations are assumptions that play an important role in physics, biology, economics, and many others sciences. Putative examples include an infinite population size in population genetics, an infinite number of components in the theory of phase transitions and an infinite number of persons consuming an infinite number of (infinitely divisible) goods in large-scale economic models. Although these idealizations are generally uncontroversial in the scientific community, they have been at the center of recent philosophical debates about reduction, explanation and the status of models in science. Yet, philosophers of the particular sciences addressing these issues have largely kept within the confines of their own specialist literature. One of our goals for the conference is to bring philosophers of physics, biology, economics, etc. together in conversation about infinite idealizations, thereby mapping what similarities and differences such idealizations may have across these fields.

Some of the questions this workshop aims to explore include (but are not limited to):

  • Are infinite idealizations compatible with reduction?
  • Can a model invoking an infinite idealization have explanatory power?
  • What explains the success of theories that appeal to infinite idealizations?
  • Are infinite idealizations compatible with scientific realism?
  • Are infinite idealizations substantially different from other idealizations?
  • Should infinite idealizations be understood as approximations?

find out more….

Orra W. Hitchcock, Lady Slippers, c. 1817-1818, watercolor on paper. Deerfield Academy Archives []


Kafka and the doll: the power of words

It’s the last year of Kafka’s life and he’s fallen in love with Dora Diamant, a young girl of nineteen or twenty who ran away from her Hasidic family in Poland and now lives in Berlin. She’s half his age, but she’s the one who gives him to courage to leave Prague. Every afternoon, Kafka goes for a walk in the park. More often than not, Dora goes with him. One day, they run into a little girl in tears, sobbing her heart out. Kafka asks her what’s wrong, and she tells him that she’s lost her doll. He immediately starts inventing a story to explain what happened.

‘Your doll has gone off on a trip,’ he says. ‘How do you know that?’ the girl asks. ‘Because she’s written me a letter,’ Kafka says. The girl seems suspicious. ‘Do you have it on you?’ she asks. ‘No, I’m sorry,’ he says. ‘I left it at home by mistake, but I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.’ He’s so convincing, the girl doesn’t know what to think anymore. Can it be possible that this mysterious man is telling the truth?’

Kafka goes straight home to write the letter. He sits down at his desk, and as Dora watches him write, she notices the same seriousness and tension he displays when composing his own work. He isn’t about to cheat the little girl. This is a real literary labour, and he’s determined to get it right. If he can come up with a beautiful and persuasive lie, it will supplant the girl’s loss with a different reality—a false one, maybe, but something true and believable according to the laws of fiction.

The next day Kafka rushes back to the park with the letter. The little girl is waiting for him, and since she hasn’t learned how to read yet, he reads the letter out loud to her. The doll is very sorry, but she’s grown tired of living with the same people all the time. She needs to get out and see the world, to make new friends. It’s not that she doesn’t love the little girl, but she longs for a change of scenery, and therefore they must separate for a while. The doll then promises to write the girl every day and keep her abreast of her activities.

That’s where the story begins to break my heart. It’s astonishing enough that Kafka took the trouble to write that first letter, but now he commits himself to the project of writing a new letter every day—for no other reasons than to console the little girl, who happens to be a complete stranger to him, a child he ran into by accident one afternoon in the park. What kind of man does a thing like that? He kept it up for three weeks, Nathan. Three weeks. One of the most brilliant writers who ever lived sacrificing his time—his ever more precious and dwindling time—to composing imaginary letters from a lost doll. Dora says that he wrote every sentence with excruciating attention to detail, that the prose was precise, funny and absorbing. In other words, it was Kafka’s prose, and ever day for three weeks he went to the park and read another letter to the girl. The doll grows up, goes to school, gets to know other people. She continues to assure the girl of her love, but she hints at certain complications in her life that make it impossible for her to return home. Little by little , Kafka is preparing the girl for the moment when the doll will vanish for her life forever. He struggles to come up with a satisfactory ending, worried that if he doesn’t succeed, the magic spell will be broken. After testing out several possibilities, he finally decides to marry off the doll. He describes the young man she falls in love with, the engagement party, the wedding in the country, even the house where the doll and the husband now live. And then, in the last line, the doll bids farewell to her old and beloved friend.

By that point of course, the girl no longer misses the doll. Kafka has given her something else instead, and by the time those three weeks are up, the letters have cured her of her unhappiness. She has the story, and when a person is lucky enough to live inside a story, to live inside an imaginary world, the pains of this world disappear. For as long as the story goes on, reality no longer exists.

-Paul Auster, “Brooklyn Follies

Picturing The Body In The Laboratory [conference] // Berlin, 6-7 Nov 2015

Genesis and topicality of evidence-oriented imaging in institutions of the long 19th century and today

6-7 November 2015
Humboldt University, Berlin
Image Knowledge Gestaltung, Interdisciplinary Laboratory,
Sophienstr. 22a

“Our aim is to investigate the particular role of the image in evidence production around 1900 in order to sharpen our understanding of the ground laying concepts for today’s epistemic role, limitations as well as of the convenience of laboratory work. Specifically we want to know: what is it exactly that makes the image so attractive around 1900? What can the image do that the word cannot? And does this also apply to the images described that cannot lay claim to any kind of material evidence in the form of a trace? Is there a particular obstinacy in these evidence-oriented images in terms of the Bildakt? Are these images »actors« in a way that is specific to this kind of image (Mitchell 2006)?

One of our particular focuses of interest is the role played by the technical means of producing the traces or images. What are the implications of the technology that developed at this time for evidence orientation? Do we find similar – or which other – principles at work in laboratory evidence technologies in the 21st century? What higher-order similarities does a transdisciplinary examination of different media reveal?”

…find out more



Cultural history of science on traces of the body in the lab around 1900

10.00 Registration, Welcome address & Coffee

10.30 Keynote Barbara Orland (University of Basel)
Seeing the Building Blocks of the Human Body. The Biopolitics of Microphotography 1840–1870

11.30 Short Coffee Break

Panel 1

moderator: Ann-Cathrin Drews (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)

11.40 Bettina Bock von Wülfingen (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
The New Cell Staining Techniques since the 1870s and their Role in Conceiving Sex/Gender in the Cell

12.20 Marietta Kesting (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Creating Photographic Identification

13.00       Lunch

14.00 RESUMÉ 1

Panel 2

moderator: Mark-Oliver Casper (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)

14.30 Sophia Kunze (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Necessary Reduction of Complexity or Dubious Essentialisation? Reception of Natural Scientific Knowledge in the History of Arts

15.10 Wolfgang Schäffner (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Schreber’s Evidence

15.50 Bettina Uppenkamp (Dresden University/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Evidence and Identification. On the History of the Fingerprint

16.30RESUMÉ 2

17.00 Finish
Organisational remarks. Snacks and nibbles and move to
> Lecture Hall 2094, Main Building, Unter den Linden 6

19.00 Keynote Peter Galison (Harvard University)
The Conviction of Scientific Images

Natural Sciences and Laboratory Traces Today

> Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Main Building, Seminar Room 2093,  Unter den Linden 6

9.30    Welcome Coffee

10.00Keynote Soraya de Chadarevian (UCLA)
»It is not enough, in order to understand the Book of Nature, to turn over the pages looking at the pictures. Painful though it may be, it will be necessary to learn to read the text.«
Visual Evidence in the Life Sciences, c.1960

Panel 3

moderator: Kathrin Friedrich (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)

11.00 John Nyakatura (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Trace, Experiment, Inference: Images and the Generation of Knowledge in Paleobiology

11.40 Anelis Kaiser (University of Bern)
Sex/Gender in the Brain: From Voxels to Knowledge

12.20 Thomas Stach (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)
Traces, Data, Facts: How Morphology Generates Evidence

13.00 Lunch

14.00 RESUMÉ 3

Panel 4

moderator: Markus Rautzenberg (FU Berlin, mecs Lüneburg)

14.30 Dieter Weiss (University of Rostock)
Superresolution Microscopy and the Discovery of Nano-Machines in Living Cells

15.10 Anne Dippel (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung, FSU Jena, Leuphana Lüneburg),
Lukas Mairhofer
(University of Vienna)
Believing the Pattern. A conversation on Traces in Physics

16.30 RESUMÉ 4
Coffee and Goodbye
(brief organisational authors meeting)

[download programme]


Ludwig Boltzmann: on nature

We are please to share here this post in regard to a book on Boltzmann’s philosophical writings, gifted to us not so long ago, curated by the great intellectual Prof. F. Ordoñez (UAM). The following quote, repeated quite often by Boltzmann in his conferences, touched us profoundly:

“Señoras y señores, es mi tarea en el presente curso de conferencias ofrecerles a ustedes muchas cosas; intricados teoremas, conceptos ultrarefinados y complicadas pruebas. Perdónenme si hasta ahora no les he ofrecido algo de esto. Todavía no he definido, como habría sido conveniente, el concepto de mi ciencia, esto es, la física teórica, ni he desarrollado el plan según el cual intento tratar esta materia en estas conferencias. Hoy no quise presentar todo esto a ustedes; creo que más tarde, en el transcurso de nuestro trabajo, podremos aclarar mejor estas cosas. Hoy simplemente quise presentar algo más sencillo, aunque para mí esto resulta ser todo lo que tengo, es decir, yo mismo y toda mi forma de pensar y sentir.

Del mismo modo, durante estas conferencias tendré que pedirles muchas cosas: atención concentrada, incesante diligencia y trabajo incansable. Perdónenme, por lo tanto, si antes de embarcarme en uno de estos temas les pido a cambio algo que es lo más importante para mí, es decir, su confianza, afecto y amor; en una palabra, lo más precioso que pueden dar, es decir, ustedes mismos.”

Ludwig Boltzmann, "Una conferencia inaugural de la naturaleza", 1903. 
In: Boltzmann, L., Escritos de mecánica y termodinámica, Alianza Editorial, 
traducción e introducción por Francisco J. Odón Ordoñez.


To understand who was Ludwig Boltzmann, it is useful to note two descriptions reported at the beginning of Broda’s famous book, Ludwig Boltzmann: Man, Physicist, Philosopher. (i) In J. Bronowski’s electric view of human thought The Ascent of Man, Ludwig Boltzmann is praised in the following words: “And yet one man, at the critical turn of the century, stood up for the reality of atoms on fundamental grounds of theory. He was Ludwig Boltzmann, at whose memorial I pay homage. Boltzmann was irascible, extraordinary, difficult man, an early follower of Darwin, quarrelsome and delightful, and everything that a human being should be.” (ii) Paul Feyerabend notes in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “In his realization of the hypothetical character of all our knowledge, Boltzmann was far ahead of his time and perhaps even our time.

Born in Vienna on February 20, 1844. Earned his physics PhD degree in 1866 at the University of Vienna.


Known as both a physicist and philosopher, Ludwig Boltzmann is best known for his contributions to atomistic theories and the development of statistical mechanics. Although he did not consider himself a philosopher and was critical of philosophy as a science, late in his career he did contribute to the realm of philosophy within natural science and even lectured in some philosophy classes at the University of Vienna. He received his doctorate in 1866 and in 1869 was appointed to the chair of theoretical physics at the University of Graz. His restlessness and impassioned temperament led him to move many times throughout his career. He went to the University of Vienna in 1873 as the chair of mathematics, but would return to Graz in 1876 to marry Henriette von Aigentler, a woman he had met during his first service in 1869. His position in Graz came only after a highly controversial contest between himself and Ernst Mach. After successfully gaining the position he stayed a number of years before taking the position of Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Munich in 1890. After only four years though, he returned to Vienna as chair of theoretical physics. It was here that his relationship with Ernst Mach became further strained, as the men had both personal and professional differences that Boltzmann could not handle. He left for Leipzig in 1900, but once again professional rivals would bring him back to Vienna.

As an avid atomist, Boltzmann’s fervent belief in his work led him into many heated debates with his colleagues. In Leipzig, Boltzmann had many passionate arguments with fellow professor Wilhelm Ostweld, an energist. Although Boltzmann was able to successfully defend his atomistic position, the strain of this rivalry led to his attempted suicide. Therefore, when Mach left his post at Vienna in 1901, Boltzmann was able to return to Vienna with hopes of a less strained tenure. It was at this time that his interest in philosophy began to take form. Boltzmann’s philosophy is difficult to pinpoint or define, due in part to his reluctance to accept philosophy as a legitimate part of his research. While he condemned the works of Hegel and Schopenhauer along with metaphysical ideas, he believed that a dialogue between philosophy and natural science could produce interesting and important achievements. He was particularly interested in the theoretical ideas of both fields. For Boltzmann, theories were a way to simplify and understand basic physical concepts; in this realm one could consider him an objectivist and perhaps also a relativist in his philosophical ideas. Boltzmann’s refutation of universals and belief in particulars is perhaps one reason why it is difficult to reduce his ideas down to one defining point.

Although his interests in philosophy were far reaching, even delving into the function of language; ultimately he was a theoretician and physicist. It was in this aspect of his life that he so vehemently worked. Tragically, though, his failure for immediate success and acceptance by the scientific community took their toll on Boltzmann. His frustrations with his work along with poor health led to his suicide in 1906 while on vacation near Trieste. Unfortunately, this happened before new discoveries were made which would prove his atomistic theories correct. Ludwig Boltzmann remains an important physicist and as more about his philosophical ideas surface, we will be able to better understand his impact on philosophical thought.

– extracted from Christina Weber

Ludwig Boltzmann was greatly demoralized due to the harsh criticism of his work. He committed suicide on September 5, 1906 at Duino, Italy by hanging himself. He was 62 years old.

[selected philosophical oeuvres]

  • Populäre Schriften. Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1905. (reprinted in 1919 and 1925)
  • Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. 3 vols. Ed. Fritz Hasenöhrl. Leipzig, J.A. Barth,
    1909. (Collection of Boltzmann’s scientific articles in scientific journals.)
  • Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems. Ed. Brian McGuinness. Trans. Paul
    Foulkes. Dordrecht, Reidel Publishing Co., 1974.

There has been much recent interest in the suggestion that quantum mechanics might be better understood in terms of its causal structure. Novel formalism has provided a new perspective on the discrepancy between the causal structure of the classical and quantum worlds.

This conference brings together both physicists and philosophers with an interest in exploring the consequences of this new approach to causality in a quantum world. The conference is part of the research project The Causal Power of Information in a Quantum World.

The project investigates the theses that physically embodied information acquires causal power in the effective operation of intelligent agents, either natural or artificial, and that new kinds of causal relations will naturally arise when information and control is embodied in quantum systems.


If you wish to attend, please fill out the registration form no later than July 31 2015. Speakers do not need to fill this form.


Gerard Milburn, Phil Dowe, Andrew White, Matt Farr, Peter Evans, Alessandro Fedrizzi, Fabio Costa, Christina Giarmatzi, Sally Shrapnel.

Energies in the Arts Conference

At the outset of the 21st century any discussion of energy is inextricably linked to the politics of power and environmental catastrophe. The conference extends this understanding of energy to encompass a broader field in the arts. Art’s relationship with energy extends well beyond light and colour to the kinetic, sonic, electronic, metabolic, physical, physiological, neurological, solar and sensory. Scratch below the surface of global communications and you will find flashes and systems of energy.

The conference will be presented to overlap with the Energies: Haines & Hinterding exhibition.  Attendants willhave the possibility to meet international scholars and artists and experience their latest research and practice.


Keynote speakers include

Professor Linda Dalrymple Henderson, Department of Art and Art History, The University of Texas in Austin
Martin Howse, artist, Berlin
Professor Marcus Boon, Department of English, York University, Toronto
David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, artists, Lawson


Thu 13 & Fri 14 Aug, 10am – 5pm, MCA , Veolia Lecture Theatre
Sat 15 Aug, 10am – 4pm , UNSW Art & Design


more info

conference program

Philosophy of Design: An Exploration
Philosophy of Design: An Exploration

Call for chapters
Call for co-authors

Philosophical interest in design and design research is increasing in both philosophy and design research, offering the possibility of the emergence of the new scholarly field of philosophy of design. The first steps towards this possibility have been made by work by individual authors and with volumes containing reflective research on design. With thisnew edited volume we plan to make a further step by bringing together essays that survey philosophy of design either through research papers on specific topics or by explorations of issues this field could or should take up.

Given the past naturalistic and empirical turns in philosophy, outcomes and practices in design research can immediate inform philosophy of design, and philosophy heritage can strongly fertilize design practices and design research models. For facilitating this process, the volume is planned to also include essays co-authored by design researchers and philosophers.

All topics in the large range of design disciplines are welcome, e.g., topics in the applied arts, industrial design, engineering design and all new types of design practices (ecodesign, user-centered design, interaction design, UX design, service design, design thinking, social design…).


We therefore solicit:
• proposals for research papers on topics within philosophy of design
• candidates from design research and philosophy for co-authoring papers
Responses to the call for co-authoring will be used to create and propose matching pairs of design researchers and philosophers for co-authoring contributions to the volumes.

Topics for papers could be but are not restricted to:
• phenomenology of design: the use of hermeneutics in design processes and in design projects considered as lived experiences
• epistemology of design: the specificity of design research as compared to scientific research or considered as a new kind of scientific research
• ethics of design and responsible innovation
• design knowledge and ‘designerly ways of knowing’
• esthetics of/in design
• modelling and mapping design processes
• validation of design research

Important dates:
• June 2015, 1st: abstracts (500 words)
• December 2015, 1st: full papers (between 6000 and 12000 words)
• February 2016, 1st: decisions and feedback to authors
• March 2016, 1st: revised papers
• April 2016, 1st: submission to reviewers
• June 2016, 1st : reviewers feedback
• July 2016, 1st: final revised papers
• September 2016: release

Abstracts must be sent to:
• Pieter Vermaas, Delft University of Technology,
• Stéphane Vial, University of Nîmes / Sorbonne Paris 1 University,