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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018

Epistemology meets Kant

Image: Christophe Vorlet

Cologne Center for Contemporary Epistemology and the Kantian Tradition (CONCEPT)

Prof. Dr. Sven Bernecker | Philosophy

Research center funded by an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship Award

The research center is built on the premise that contemporary epistemology and epistemology in the classical German tradition both benefit from the cross-fertilization of ideas and methods. Contemporary epistemology supplies the logical and conceptual resources that allow us to gain a deeper understanding of issues in Kantian epistemology. Kantian epistemology, in turn, provides promising suggestions for resolving persistent issues in contemporary epistemology. Thus, the goal is to use contemporary concepts and tools to refine historical research in epistemology and to historically contextualize the contemporary discussion in epistemology.

Arguably the biggest obstacle to applying Kant’s epistemological insights to the contemporary debate is his commitment to transcendental idealism, that is, the thesis that we do not and cannot have knowledge of things as they are in themselves but only of appearances of things. The research center will investigate the rationale for transcendental idealism and explore the reasons that led to the widespread abandonment of transcendental idealism in favor of empiricism, naturalism and externalism. This is the task of the first of altogether three research modules. The second module is concerned with reconstructing Kant’s account of belief, justification, and knowledge and applying the Kantian insights to the contemporary debate. The third module is concerned with Kantian and contemporary perspectives on the sources of justification and knowledge. The focus will be on three sources: memory, rational intuition, and introspection.

The center was founded in Juli 2016 by Professor Sven Bernecker. The funding is based on his Alexander von Humboldt Professorship award and has been granted until June 2021. The center will house five doctoral students, three postdocs, two junior professors as well as numerous visiting scholars. All colloquia, workshops and conferences organized by CONCEPT are free and open to the public.

Text: Sven Bernecker, Sibel Schmidt


Prof. Dr. Sven Bernecker

Researchers: Lisa Benossi, Dr. Amy Flowerree, Jakob Ohlhorst, Dr. Luis Munaretti da Rosa

E-mail s.bernecker(at)