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MW Lecture with Prof. Richard Whatmore (University of St Andrews) - The End of Enlightenment and After

Dates:
  • Wed 20 Nov 2019 17.00 - 18.30
  Add to Calendar 2019-11-20 17:00 2019-11-20 18:30 Europe/Paris MW Lecture with Prof. Richard Whatmore (University of St Andrews) - The End of Enlightenment and After

The major claim of this Lecture is that a central fact has been missed by generations of historians and commentators. It is that in the final decades of the eighteenth century many contemporaries believed that they had failed the challenge of maintaining Enlightenment and were set fair for an era of civil and likely international war, the growth of intolerance, and possibly political apocalypse, in the sense of the collapse of existing constitutions and governments. Some have argued that such fears for the future were a commonplace response to the French Revolution. The problems identified as likely to cause the end of enlightenment occurred much earlier in actuality. The French Revolution was more a response to anticipations of imminent crisis than their cause. The view became widespread after the end of the Seven Years’ War that new forms of fanaticism were abroad. Traditionally associated with religious extremism, as societies across Europe became polarized, frightening forms of superstition and enthusiasm were being translated from religion into politics. These terms - superstition, enthusiasm and fanaticism - were of fundamental importance in any understanding of eighteenth-century thought. They need to be defined as they identify worries about the likely future for numerous philosophers who died between Hume (1776) or Rousseau (1778) and Paine (1809).

Jorge Díaz Ceballos (MW Fellow, HEC) will introduce and chair the Lecture.

Refectory, Badia Fiesolana DD/MM/YYYY
  Refectory, Badia Fiesolana

The major claim of this Lecture is that a central fact has been missed by generations of historians and commentators. It is that in the final decades of the eighteenth century many contemporaries believed that they had failed the challenge of maintaining Enlightenment and were set fair for an era of civil and likely international war, the growth of intolerance, and possibly political apocalypse, in the sense of the collapse of existing constitutions and governments. Some have argued that such fears for the future were a commonplace response to the French Revolution. The problems identified as likely to cause the end of enlightenment occurred much earlier in actuality. The French Revolution was more a response to anticipations of imminent crisis than their cause. The view became widespread after the end of the Seven Years’ War that new forms of fanaticism were abroad. Traditionally associated with religious extremism, as societies across Europe became polarized, frightening forms of superstition and enthusiasm were being translated from religion into politics. These terms - superstition, enthusiasm and fanaticism - were of fundamental importance in any understanding of eighteenth-century thought. They need to be defined as they identify worries about the likely future for numerous philosophers who died between Hume (1776) or Rousseau (1778) and Paine (1809).

Jorge Díaz Ceballos (MW Fellow, HEC) will introduce and chair the Lecture.


Location:
Refectory, Badia Fiesolana

Affiliation:
Max Weber Programme

Type:
Lecture

Contact:
Francesca Grassini (EUI - Max Weber Programme) - Send a mail

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