Thinking Europe: Philosophy, Autonomy and Culture

As part of the 4th Euroacademia Global Conference 'Europe Inside-Out:
Europe and Europeaness Exposed to Plural Observers', 23 – 24 May 2014,
Athens, Greece

Panel Description:

Europe was not evolutionary shaped as a unitary entity but emerged
from a tumultuous history as a ‘self-organizing vertigo’ (Edgar
Morin). Some cultural unity within Europe is claimed by the daily
mentalities and discursive practices even if it’s just under the form
of a unita debole, to put it in Gianni Vattimo’s terms. The ‘European
dream’ (Jeremy Rifkin) forms at the crossroad between the ideal and
real multiculturalism. Europe became a category of thought – even if
an essentially contested one – through dispute, difference, inclusive
and exclusive practices. The idea of a Europe often involves a
persistent and camouflaged historicism intrinsic in the European
version of quasi - universalistic modernity (Gerard Delanty). The
works of Cornelius Castoriadis on reflective questioning of socially
instituted representations are useful in reminding us of what Europe
stands for as a project among others. If there is a minimal
specificity of Europe that could be defended, Castoriadis has argued
throughout his work, it is precisely the lack of an unquestionable
point from which a European distinctiveness could be reified. By
historical contingency, for Castoriadis, it was in Europe that a
genuine interest in the others as others emerged in the frame of the
project of social and individual autonomy originated in ancient Greece
and reasserted by the European modernity. The project of autonomy as
essential for the European self-configuration implies an unlimited
possibility of questioning our own institution and of acting in regard
to it. The European specificity comes from its traditions originated
in Ancient Greece encouraging the constant and never-ending reflective

This panel aims to revisit precisely this patrimony of critical
thinking. It is the belief implicit in this panel that the
contemporary understandings of Europe should be placed more firmly
within this tradition of aspiration for autonomy as putting into
question the institutions of the society and their emanated
representations and shake the walls of their cognitive closure. This
is because, autonomy as unlimited questioning is a premise and not an
outcome of European culture. The patrimonial European identity can be
conceived as an experienced identification with a generous culture
from which many individuals extract and share feelings of belonging.
It is the role of critical thinking and philosophy to place the
Europeaness in touch with its generous, magmatic cultural elements and
question historically circumstantial projects of political
appropriations of identitarian claims.

The panel welcomes papers on any theoretical effort for understanding
Europe and Europeaness, be it contemporary or a call to re-reading the

Suggested topics include:
~ Thinking Europe – Arguments for a Fragile Unity of the European Culture
~ Ancient Greece and the Theoretical Foundation of the European Project
~ Elements of European Histories of Philosophy
~ Philosophy and Culture: Specifics of the European Thought
~ Autonomy, Critical Evaluation and Culture
~ European Philosophical Traditions
~ Fragments of European Political Thought
~ Eurocentric Thinking and Claims of Universalism
~ European Thinking and the ‘Other’
~ Is there a European Philosophy Pedigree?
~ Castoriadis: Europe and Autonomy
~ Derrida: Europe as a ‘Pre-Adult’ Space of Liberty
~ Foucault and Eurocentric Thinking
~ Enlightenment, Modernity and Grand Narratives
~ Europe and the Responsibility of Thinking

If interested to apply, please send your 300 words abstract together
with the name and affiliation until 20th of April 2014 to
[log in to unmask]

See the full details of the conference before applying:

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: