"Modern Readings of Epicureanism:
Political Receptions and the Politics of Reception"
4 May 2018, 9:30-16:30
Organisers: Federico Testa (AEUIFAI Postgraduate Fellow - EUI; PhD candidate at The University of Warwick & Monash University); Jared Holley (MWF - EUI)
With the support/collaboration of the Intellectual History Working Group (HEC/EUI).
Liaison: Juha Haavisto (HEC - EUI)
This one-day workshop is dedicated to modern receptions and readings of the Epicurean tradition (and its relations to Classic and Hellenistic philosophies). From the materialists and mortalists in theological debates in England (17th century), to the French libertines and free-spirits, passing through Hobbes, Spinoza and Rousseau and, finally Marx, Guyau and Nietzsche (in the 19th century), the workshop investigates the continuity of Epicurean themes in Western thought, emphasising its social and political implications. Traditionally considered as a form of withdrawal from political arena, Epicureanism has been characterised as the apolitical doctrine par excellence.
However, the hegemony of this view has become target of careful historical and philosophical criticism, one that shows the political aspects of Epicurus’ philosophy. If, on the one hand, the Stoics developed a reflection on politics beyond the limits of the polis (extending it to the cosmos), playing a central role in the modern discussion on social duties and natural law; on the other, Epicureans dedicated their attention to smaller, subtler forms of association, such as friendship, below the level of the city laws and walls.
The Epicurean tradition played a central role in the modern discussion on the conventionality of law and justice, the notion of social contract, and on the idea of social progress. Notions such as friendship, conventional justice, social contract, utility, and the passions mark the modern engagement with the work of Epicurus, Lucretius and the Epicurean school.
The workshop will be interdisciplinary, situating itself in the intersection between philosophy, intellectual history, history of political thought and political theory, bringing together researchers concerned with modern Epicureanism, especially its repercussion in politics, social theory, ethics and moral philosophy.
Download the programme (pdf)