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The Humanities as Empirical Sciences

January 28th, 2013

The very texts that became emblematic for the difference between the humanities and the natural sciences make rather strong claims as to the fundamental similarities between these disciplinary fields. In particular, both the natural sciences and the humanities are standardly viewed, in the period around 1900, as “empirical sciences” (to name an example: Wilhelm Windelband’s classical texts on the relationship between the natural sciences and the humanities do not tire to emphasize this point). The lecture will investigate the implications of this claim as to empiricity: which notion of “experience” and of “empirical method” is at issue here? Which types of experience are invoked (seeing that, at the same time, and closely related to the project of conceptually structuring the field of the scientific disciplines, new forms of experience were introduced in, f.i., phenomenology)? Which sort of demarcatory criteria are used to separate the humanities from the natural sciences, when both can be viewed as being ‘empirical’?

Paul Ziche is professor for the history of modern philosophy at the University of Utrecht.

  • 1986-1992: studies in Munich and Oxford (1986-1988 physics, then M.A. in philosophy, with minors in physics and psychology)
  • 1988: Diploma-„Zwischenpruefung“ in physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
  • 1989/1990: Graduate student in philosophy, University of Oxford
  • 1992: M.A. in philosophy (minors: Physics, psychology), Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
  • 1995: Dr.phil., Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich; Title of Dr.phil.-Thesis: „Mathematische und naturwissenschaftliche Modelle in der Philosophie Schellings und Hegels“
  • 2003: Habilitation, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich; Title of the Habilitation-thesis: „Philosophie und Wissenschaften um 1900. Wissenschaftliche Philosophie als ‚nicht-reduktiver Szientismus’“
  • since 2008: professor (chair) for the history of modern philosophy at the University of Utrecht
  • 2010: „Teacher of the year“ of Utrecht University

Functions include

  • Member of the Descartes Centrum for the history and philosophy of the sciences and the humanities
  • (With Hans Bertens) Coordinator of the Honours-Minor-program of Utrecht University („Descartes College“)
  • Member of the „bibliotheekscommissie“ of the faculty of humanities, University of Utrecht
  • Member of the „opleidingscommissie“, department of philosophy, University of Utrecht

Academic positions

  • Member of the „Commission for the history of science“ at the Bavarian Academy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Munich
  • Secretary of the „Internationale Schelling-Gesellschaft“
  • Member of the TransCoop-project (funded by the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gesellschaft): „Imaginary and Ideal Elements and Limit Concepts in Mathematics: Their Theory, History, and Philosophical Understanding“ (Directors: Michael Detlefsen, University of Notre Dame/Godehard Link, University, Munich)

Former positions

  • 2001-2007: Academic employee at the „Kommission zur Herausgabe der Schriften von Schelling“, Bavarian Academy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Munich
  • Lecturer (Privatdozent), Philosophy Department, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich
  • 1996-2000:  „Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter“ (research assistant/assistant professor), Institute for the history of science, medicine and technology, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena
  • Guest docent e.g. at the Institute Vienna Circle; Institut „HyperWerk“, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Basel; Venice International University

Research interests include

  • History of philosophy, with a focus on the 18th and 19th century
  • German Idealism
  • Philosophy of nature
  • The historical development and systematic implications of the relationship between different forms of „Wissenschaft“/“wetenschappen“
  • History of universities and scientific organisations
  • History of psychology