Calendar | Conference

Phenomenology and History

Annual Conference of the Central and East European Society for Phenomenology

Novi Sad, 6 - 8 September 2023

Official Website

Phenomenology was originally designed to be a science that attempted to overcome particular and accidental determinants. For many scholars, this attempt meant that phenomenology should focus, as some argued, on timeless and non-historical meanings and essences. This reading, however, was misleading and did not do justice to the nuanced way in which “the historical” was approached by Husserl and his followers (and critics). Given a thorough analysis of inner time-consciousness, passive synthesis, and the phenomenon of sedimentation, it became evident that “the historical” is a crucial component not only of the past, but of the very experience of the present.

CFP is open

The phenomenology of history is not only an important part of phenomenological studies, but also opens new perspectives on the history of philosophy, as is the case in the writings of Husserl, Heidegger, Patočka, and Marion, to mention only a few authors. A phenomenological approach to the history of philosophy points out that it is about discovering the “closed-off” dimension of the original philosophical evidence. This is not closed off because the meanings in question are fixed once and for all and are not amenable to any transformation, but because what is at stake is the evidence that internally supported the construction of the philosophical positions of the past, yet at the same time was not exposed in a sufficiently clear and adequate manner. When the philosophical positions of the past were shaped, the evidence that actually motivated and initiated the emergence of certain philosophies remained a sediment that has not yet been reactivated, i.e., brought to itself-givenness in such a way that its crucial effect can be appreciated for what it is. Moreover, being-closed-off as a feature of the original evidence also means that the history of philosophy represents a unique movement. What drove its development over and over again was a telos that was common to all relevant philosophical positions of the past, yet remained closed off within them—which meant that no philosophy was able to realize the telos present in it, a telos to which it owes its legitimation within the historical flow of philosophy.

Unlike Hegel’s notion, the phenomenological notion of teleological history does not rest upon the idea of development: Husserl’s convincing analysis focused on the factual state of philosophical research suggests that history is about the internal breakdown of its guiding idea rather than about a successful and fruitful path to its fulfillment and realization. According to his remark expressed at the beginning of the Crisis, “the whole historical process has a remarkable form, one which become visible only through an interpretation of its hidden innermost motivation. Its form is not that of a smooth development, not that of a continual growth of lasting spiritual acquisitions or of a transformation of spiritual configurations—concepts, theories, systems—which can be explained by means of the accidental historical situations” (Crisis, 11–12).

The thematic scope of the conference will include (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Husserl and his followers (and critics) on the history of philosophy;

  • approaches to history and history of philosophy in the writings of Heidegger, Ingarden, Arendt, Patočka, Carr, and others;

  • history and history of philosophy from the viewpoint of French phenomenologists, including Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Richir, Marion, Barbaras, and others;

  • roots and contexts (e.g., Brentano) of the phenomenological account of the history of philosophy;

  • phenomenological methods of exploring the phenomenon of history;

  • eidos and historical sedimentations in the history of philosophy;

  • on the (im-)possibility of a transcendental phenomenology of history;

  • history and time;

  • history and structures of (timeless) meaning;

  • the phenomenon of history and the historicity of phenomena;

  • new approaches to the history of the Phenomenological Movement.

Language: the conference will be held in English.

Deadline for submissions: April 15, 2023.

Notifications of acceptance: May 15, 2023.

Email: (add the “CEESP 2023 Conference proposal” in the email subject field).

Registration fee: 70 EUR.

Submission types:

  • Individual papers: Please submit an anonymized abstract of the proposed contribution (max. 300 words) and a cover letter with affiliation and contact information. A regular time slot is approx. 40 minutes (30 min for presentation + 10 min for discussion).

  • Thematic panels: The proposal should consist of abstracts for 3 papers as part of one panel (max. 300 words per abstract) as well as a separate cover letter with affiliations of the panelists and contact information. The panelists will have approx. 120 minutes in total at their disposal for the discussion of the proposed topic.

Onsite Organizing Committee: Dragan Prole, Damir Smiljanić, Una Popović, Lazar Atanasković, Tanja Todorović