CfP: “Whitehead and Phenomenology” at the 13th International Whitehead Conference

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Call for papers for the panel “Whitehead and Phenomenology” at the 13th International Whitehead Conference (München, Germany, in July 2023).

Call for papers for the panel “Whitehead and Phenomenology” at the 13th International Whitehead Conference (, to be held in München, Germany, on July 26-29, 2023.

Whitehead and Phenomenology
No real dialogue has ever taken place between Whitehead and phenomenology, but at least a fortunate exception should be considered: Merleau-Ponty’s investigation on nature, later collected in the lectures held at the Collège de France and published posthumously. As it is well known, his intermediary was Jean Wahl, who had the merit to introduce Whitehead in France quite early.
While it is clear enough how books such as The Concept of Nature or Symbolism can tickle the interest of phenomenologists, it would seem more problematic to reconcile the phenomenological inquiry with Whitehead’s most complete and systematic work, Process and Reality. Although avowedly metaphysical, Process and Reality seeks in fact to break with many metaphysical crystallizations which are still characteristic of Husserl’s language.
It is no coincidence that Merleau-Ponty develops his philosophical project of a new ontology in the wake of the debate proper to post-Husserlian phenomenology, which tries to rethink the correlational apriori in the attempt to overcome the transcendental approach proper to it. This was not only the aim of Merleau-Ponty, but also of Eugen Fink, as well as Mikel Dufrenne and Jan Patočka or, more recently, Renaud Barbaras, whose projects lead to whole new cosmologies.
The recent release of the critical edition of Whitehead’s Harvard Lectures allows us to consider another significant fact: Charles Hartshorne, at that time one of Whitehead’s most promising students at Harvard, had spent a research period in Germany listening to the living voice of Husserl and Heidegger before meeting his mentor in America. Given the familiarity between Whitehead and Hartshorne, we can deduce that at least some of the insights of the fathers of phenomenology were not entirely unknown to him. Since Whitehead taught at Harvard before the completion of his philosophical system, we cannot exclude they influenced his major work, Process and Reality.
Coming back to the concrete and to lived experience, thinking about the appearance of what is as such, beyond any “bifurcation”, the problem of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, are just some of the traces that bring Whitehead close to phenomenology. However, the aim of this panel is not to establish simple analogies, but rather to understand if this dialogue makes sense today; what the opportunities are, and what the risks.

The deadline for submission of 400 word abstracts is April 1st, 2023 (01:00 am UTC+00:00 London) via EasyChair ( The response will follow latest by May 1st, 2023 (01:00 am UTC+00:00 London).

For inquiries, please contact the panel organizers: Luca Vanzago ([email protected]) and Alessia Giacone ([email protected]).

Suggested (but not exclusive) areas of interest are:

  • Towards “lifeworld”: beyond “bifurcation” and “geometrization” of nature
  • Whose experience? Implementation or reduction of experience, also through new technologies
  • Where does the body end? And where does the external world begin? Dove finisce il corpo e inizia il mondo esterno? The living body as a whole sensory organ
  • Subject, object, world: from intersubjectivity to cosmology