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Ontological Questions in Science | Summer school 2022

The summer school is opened to Master/Phd students and researchers from any scientific discipline.

Catégorie : conférence/cours/séminaire (spécialisé)
Date : 27/07/2022 09:00 - 07/08/2022 17:00

Every discipline bases its constructions on ontological assumptions, i.e. assumptions about the nature of its objects. For instance :
- physicists assume a correspondence between their models and what matter actually is and how it behaves;
- biologists assume that a living being is a unity that transcends its chemical components (or not) ; species could also be considered ontological (or not) ;
- philosophers of consciousness and neuroscientists have various assumptions on the relationship between brain matter and consciousness itself;
- in social sciences, different paradigms co-exist and have different ontological assumptions. For instance, holism assumes that social structures exist and are prior to individuals, while for methodological individualism only individuals act (and social phenomena have to be understood as emergent from interaction between individuals).

This is not an exhaustive list !

This workshop is open for researchers from any scientific discipline or from mathematics or philosophy. In that respect, we will share what everyone has to submit to the collective reflection from their respective disciplines regarding ontological questions. The transdisciplinarity at the heart of our approach can only be fruitful if one keeps in mind that several levels of analysis can be relevant for some questions. We expect all participants to keep their critical ability but also to show respect, interest and curiosity for other disciplines involved in this collective work. We will expect that any participant shares our understanding of philosophy as a systematic research method rather than a mere elegant discourse. From our perspective, philosophy is supposed to aim most importantly at acquiring knowledge and only minorly at deconstructing and criticising what we hold as certain.

The sessions themselves will be organised in the following fashion: the first day and a half we will have a short (15 min/pers.) presentation of the ontological question that everyone wants to dive into and what background they bring to the table. Then we will organise discussion groups on the topics that will have been collectively subdivided (or merged). At the end of every day we decide what has to be pursued next in a pooling session. The last three days will be dedicated to writing articles explaining the conclusions that we have reached, in the perspective to publish them. The planning as well as the chores and the cooking will be collectively carried out. The will to avoid any oppression inside our group has to be stressed and will be guaranteed by collective decision-making sessions and the awareness that social interactions take a huge part in what motivates and sustains research, which means that unhealthy, hierarchic or competitive relations are an obstacle to progress as much as to well-being. This is also why social activities will be proposed between the work sessions.

Applications have to be submitted before the 29th of April.

Note that we can provide financial support for you to come to Belgium if you need it, because we want this research group to be as international and inclusive as possible. Don't hesitate to mention this kind of information in the motivation section of the registration form.


Contact : Alice van Helden -
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