Calendar | Conference

Phenomenology, Reality and Essences

Paderborn, 16 - 17 November 2023

Official Website
CFP is closedOriginal Call for Papers

In phenomenology, a standard way to make claims about reality is through the identification of invariant features of and in experience, traditionally called “essences”. Phenomenology as essence intuition, eidetic variation or eidetic reduction raises fundamental questions concerning, among other things, the ontological structure of reality, the status of essences, their normativity, the relationship to empirical sciences and the nature of the phenomenological a priori in general.

This conference has two aims: (1) To establish a fuller picture of the manifold ways in which essence intuition has been understood by phenomenologists historically. How was phenomenology as an eidetic science conceived in and especially outside of Husserl’s writings? (2) To inquire if the idea of essence intuition, broadly construed, might still be considered a viable way of doing phenomenology, especially in light of recent interdisciplinary developments in various fields of phenomenology.

Ad (1): A special focus will be on proponents of early phenomenology such as Hedwig Conrad-Martius, who has developed a Realontologie, and Edith Stein, who combined eidetics with classical metaphysical concepts such potency and act. Further relevant phenomenologists in this regard include Gerda Walther, Adolf Reinach and Roman Ingarden among others. What claims about reality did these early phenomenologists make, and what methods were employed to justify them?

Ad (2): The second point of interest concerns the plausibility and usefulness of the phenomenology of essences. What role might an eidetic method play in respect to more recent interdisciplinary endeavors working on the intersection between phenomenology, cognitive sciences, neuroscience or the philosophy of mind? How do situated approaches such as critical phenomenology respond to an eidetic method?

In addition and/or relation to the historical and interdisciplinary concerns, possible topics of submissions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What are essences and what is essence intuition in phenomenology?
  • How does phenomenology as an a priori science of essences relate to statements of empirical sciences (for instance, in regard to the distinction between exact and inexact essences, the normative status of essences etc.)?
  • What is the relationship between the essence of experiencing (in terms of consciousness) and the essences of experienced objects?
  • What is the ontological and metaphysical status of essences (for instance in terms of temporality, ideality, mind-independence etc.)?
  • How does the eidetic method differ from other modes of experiential description, such as introspection and empirical observation?
  • Has there been a methodical consensus, for instance among the phenomenologists of the Munich and Göttingen circles, about the nature of essences and if so, what was it based on?

Participants will have 30 minutes for presenting the talk and 10 minutes for discussion.

Please submit an abstract of ca. 500 words. Please prepare abstracts for blind review and submit a separate submission title sheet with all your contact details. Submissions should be sent electronically to Dr. Daniel Neumann ( The deadline for submission is July 31st, 2023. Notification of acceptance will be sent out no later than September 1st, 2023.

The event is hosted by the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (Paderborn University), led by Prof. Ruth E. Hagengruber.