The Enlightenment is back. In public debate, in the media and in political speech, the Enlightenment is a live issue. It is invoked as a constitutive feature of modernity and often rhetorically crafted as a signifier of distinctively Western values and institutions.
In this summer course, these contemporary uses of the Enlightenment will be critically examined and discussed. There are two main objectives. First, to make a close study of classical eighteenth-century answers to the question “What is enlightenment?” in order to better contextualize and diagnose the typically twenty-first-century uses of the term in public discourse. Second, to explore theoretical perspectives that help explain the appeal of the Enlightenment in current public debates and highlight its potentially problematic aspects.
With guest lectures by leading international scholars in the fields of philosophy of the Enlightenment and contemporary social and political philosophy.
With close reading seminars on classical philosophical texts from the Age of Enlightenment.
With workshops and debate classes on various uses of the Enlightenment in contemporary public discourse.
With an evening program of films and documentaries dedicated to the persistence of Enlightenment ideals in contemporary visual culture.
Academic coordinators: Herbert De Vriese and Geert Van Eekert