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CfP: Phenomenology and the Limits of Experience (21–23 September 2023, University of Bucharest)

Organized by: the University of Bucharest (ICUB) and the Romanian Society for Phenomenology

Keynote Speakers: Natalie Depraz, Saulius Geniusas, Sara Heinämaa

The recent publication of Husserliana XLII, Die Grenzprobleme der Phänomenologie, in 2014 has revitalized a concern with the question of the “limits of experience,” a question that phenomenology has been struggling with throughout its history. In discussing such phenomena as death, birth, deep sleep, or dream, Husserl elaborates a vast set of expressions intended to integrate them systematically into his phenomenology as “marginal problems” (Randprobleme), “higher altitude problems” (Höhenprobleme), “transition problems” (Übergangsprobleme). In contrast to Husserl, it was already Eugen Fink who clearly saw that such issues actually exceed the capacities of classical phenomenology and call for methodological innovations. His plea for a “constructive” and “speculative” turn in phenomenology originates in such considerations. Similarly, existentialist and hermeneutic philosophers working within a phenomenological tradition, such as Jaspers or Heidegger, recognized that aside from posing methodological difficulties for phenomenology, phenomena in which being is confronted with the “possibility of its impossibility” (death, anxiety) can themselves serve as a springboard for more general and penetrating insights. ​More recent phenomenological projects, following and going beyond Husserl’s essential characterization of alienness as “accessibility in genuine inaccessibility,” shed new light on the experiential (co-)constitution of limits in the homeworld/alienworld dynamic and place it at the center of their non-foundationalist endeavors.

The present conference aims to address multifarious implications of the “limits of experience” in phenomenology. We are interested in contributions that thematically explore and expand the spectrum of limit-phenomena by tackling the limits of perception, recollection, experience of the other (empathy), bodily expressivity, sense-making, etc. We also welcome contributions that reflect systematically on the limits and borders of phenomenology as a discipline and on its relations to other philosophical or scientific fields and traditions. Submissions that methodologically engage with the potentialities of limits, posing questions of phenomenological access to such phenomena or addressing the relevance of anomalies and extreme cases for a phenomenological eidetics, are encouraged as well.

We welcome contributions dealing with (but not limited to) any of the following topics:

  • Limits of various modalities of experience (limits of perception, limits of phantasy, limits of memory, limits of image-consciousness)
  • Limits of representation (the unimaginable, revelation, saturated phenomena)
  • Limits of understanding (nonsense, absurdity)
  • Limits of vulnerability (violence, pain)
  • Limits of empathy (cruelty, torture, abuse)
  • Limits of intersubjectivity (adversity, confrontation, alien/foreigner/stranger)
  • Limits of sociality (radical solitude)
  • Limits of discourse (incommunicability in speech and gesture)
  • Limits of experience in the human-animal relation
  • Limits of phenomenology and interdisciplinarity
  • Limits in phenomenological method(s) and phenomenological practice (the incompleteness of reductions, the limits of a priori research)
  • Methodological uses for limit-phenomena
  • Phenomenological architectonics and the systematic position of limit-problems

Language: The conference will be held in English.

Venue: University of Bucharest (Rectorate Building, Șoseaua Panduri nr. 1).

Deadline for submissions: April 10, 2023.

Notifications of acceptance: May 20, 2023.


Registration fee: 60 EUR.

Submission types:

  • Individual papers: Please submit an anonymized abstract of the proposed contribution (maximum 300 words) and a cover letter with affiliation and contact information. A regular time slot is approximately 40 minutes (30 min. for presentation + 10 min. for discussion).
  • Thematic panels: The proposal should consist of anonymized abstracts for 3 papers as part of one panel (maximum 300 words per abstract) as well as a separate cover letter with affiliations of the panelists and contact information. The panelists will have approximately 120 minutes in total at their disposal for the discussion of the proposed topic.

Organizing Committee: Alexandru Bejinariu, Remus Breazu, Cristian Ciocan, Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Paul Marinescu.