Workshop: ‘Naturalistic approaches to culture?’

The European Science Foundation's Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH) organizes a workshop on naturalistic approaches to culture. on the lake Balaton in Hungary, 4-7 September 2011. The aim of the workshop is to initiate a long-term initiative of the SCH, in favour of interdisciplinary and inter-European exchanges of ideas in this domain. Key speakers will be Gergely Csibra, Ágnes Kovács, Olivier Morin, Eugenia Ramirez-Goicoechea and Peter Richerson.

The ESF offers, on a competitive basis, awards to early career scholars to participate in the workshop. A group of 20 early career researchers will be selected by open competition and invited to actively participate in the event, including the presentation of a poster. The ESF award will cover travel costs (up to a maximum of €350), meals and accommodation (3 nights). Deadlline for applications, May 16. The Call for participation can be downloaded here.


The main aim of the workshop is to explore the possibilities and limitations of naturalistic approaches to mind and culture. The most important new vistas arise from modern evolutionary theory but the issues also have, in thebackground, the traditional debates on reductionism and biological determinism. Two broad kinds of approaches will be discussed and compared: 1. During the past two decades with the advent of evolutionary psychology and related developments a newserious challenge has been made regarding the biological routing of some of the most cherished culturalachievements and features of humans. This challenge basically involves the idea that some of our cultural habits and propensities are the results of interactions between biological constraints and cultural shaping, rather than being constructed by culture alone. 2. Many scientists and scholars have argued, on the other hand, that the notions of the “biological” and the “cultural” are based on dualistic thinking that is increasingly problematic, given the human refashioning of nature both through the “culturing” of natural environment and life itself and through human impacts on global climate and environment. Thus, many scholars have found it necessary to speak of “naturecultures”and “biosocialities”.



Eligibility: There is no restriction on nationality, but an advanced level of English is required, since the workshop will be conducted in English. The following eligibility criteria must both be met. Applicants must: have a PhD, with successful viva completed by the time of submission but no more than 10 years ago, and be affiliated with an institution of higher education and/or research in Europe.

Selection: The selection will be carried out by the programme committee. Decisions will be based on the following criteria: Scientific track record and scientific potential ; Originality of prospective thinking as expressed in the abstract and publications. All other conditions being met, the programme committee will aim for a geographic and disciplinary balance and a balance of male and female participants.

Submission: The application material must be submitted as two email attachments by 16 May 2011, 12:00 (noon) CET, to the address of the local organizer, professor Csaba Pléh:

– One attachment (title: FirstnameLastnameCV) should have your CV (max. 1000 words), including an overview of your education and main publications.

– The other attachment (title: FirstnameLastnameAbstract) should be an abstract for a poster presentation (max. 1000 words).

NB: Applications exceeding the indicated word restrictions will not be eligible.

Notification by June the 15th.

Local Contacts: Professor Csaba Pléh and Ms Judit Fazakas ESF Contacts: Dr Eva Hoogland and Ms Claire Rustat-Flinton Programme committee Professor Csaba Pléh, Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Chair) Professor Gísli Pálsson, Department of Anthropology, University of Iceland Professor Alain Peyraube CNRS, Paris Professor Matti Sintonen, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki

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