International Conference 2019

„Concepts of Humans and Nature between Specificity and Universality”

The Research Training Group 1876 " Early Concepts of Humans and Nature: Universal, Specific, Interchanged" invites to its International Conference "Concepts of Humans and Nature between Specificity and Universality" to be held in 2019 on July, 15th–17th at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz (Germany).

Within the framework of the international conference, the RTG aims to deal with the question of possibly universal basic patterns of concepts and their causes as well as with the specific implementations of concepts of humans and nature in early societies. We would like to foster a discussion on whether and how the body or, more generally, our physically grounded experience might be involved in understanding, shaping and even creating concepts within the domains of humans and nature. Thereby we aim to explore the universal or contextual nature of those concepts. More specifically, questions we would like to address include:

  • To what extent can diverse conceptual constructions and theoretical systems, for instance about the cosmos or human body, be traced back to elementary, physically grounded experiences and actions, in order that a universal substratum may be assumed?
  • To what extent are concepts of humans and nature, both concrete and abstract, influenced by our bodily and physically grounded experience? In turn, to what extent do already established concepts influence the social assessment and representation of given phenomena?
  • To what extent could the representation of certain objects, the formation of certain notions and the creation of more abstract concepts and conceptual theories be, in each case study, contextually defined, re-shaped and exploited?
  • How do phenomena, human understanding of phenomena and creative imagination interplay in the formation and development of concepts of humans and nature?
  • How close is the connection between physically grounded actions on the one hand and cognitive processes on the other?

We would like to foster a discussion on these questions in an international and interdisciplinary environment, with three panels, which are in line with research projects our RTG is currently working on. Our graduates will be the chairs of those panels:

1) Zones, Parts, Functions – The relationship between body experience and body concepts

2) Conceptualizing Sky and Heaven – Human interactions with meteorological and cosmic phenomena

3)  Investigating concepts of the dead body