Summer school - Ontological Questions in Science

Jul 27, 2022 to Aug 7, 2022
Rue du Moulin, 36 - 5670 Mazée (Viroinval) - Belgium

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 is doing,
- 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 mind 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 to 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 ought to aim primarily at acquiring knowledge and only secondarily 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 will consist of short presentations (15 min/pers.) of the ontological question that each participant wants to dive into and the background they bring to the table. We will then organise discussion groups based on how the topics have been subdivided (or merged). In a pooling session at the end of every day, we collectively decide what to pursue next.
The last three days will be dedicated to writing articles explaining the conclusions that we have reached, with the idea of publishing them.
All the planning, chores, and 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 obstacles to progress as much as to well-being. This is also why social activities will be proposed between the work sessions. We also encourage international participation, so please notify us if you would need financial help for transportation.
Please submit a short abstract and a motivation paragraph via this link for the 29th of April, last call: