Friday, April 18, 2008

CFP: "The Enlightenment: Critique, Myth and Utopia," Finnish Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of Helsinki, October 17-18, 2008.

The Enlightenment (Aufklärung, les Lumières, upplysningen) has been claimed to mark the beginning of modern European era. This symposium on the traditions(s) of the Enlightenment and on its reception wishes to pose questions like the following:
  • Do the inheritance and myths of the Enlightenment still have influence (even when questioned)?
  • Is knowledge based on observation and Reason?
  • Is reason universal?
  • Is it possible to govern nature with knowledge?
  • Are societies built on the will of the citizens?
  • Did the philosophers of the Enlightenment actually answer yes to these questions? Or are these questions just an expression of our present-day prejudices and myths on the Enlightenment?
  • How and when were the contemporary received views about the Enlightenment formed, and what purposes did they serve or do serve now?
  • Who are today the supporters and the enemies of the Enlightenment?
  • How has contemporary research contributed to renewing our views on what the Enlightenment actually was about?

The symposium arranged by the Finnish Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies ( will offer an interdisciplinary forum for contemporary discussions and research. Firstly, the key texts of the Enlightenment and the changes of society implied by them have raised novel interest. The French and German Enlightenment philosophies are crucial in discussions about critique and emancipation. Secondly, these aims and metaphors have been accompanied by the concepts of moral communality which stem especially from the Scottish Enlightenment. They have become topical in debates concerning globalisation, multiculturalism and the limits of tolerance. The third theme that motivates this seminar is the relationship between the Enlightenment and religion. For a long time it was held that the rift between religion and society came about during the Enlightenment. Did this really happen? The Speakers and Sessions: The first day of the symposium consists of four plenary lectures by invited keynote speakers. One of the keynote speakers is professor Miguel Benítez from the University of Seville. He is known as one of the central authorities on the radical Enlightenment distributed in the form of clandestine philosophical manuscripts. In addition to numerous articles on clandestine philosophical literature, Benítez has published La Face cachée des Lumières: Recherches sur les manuscrits philosophiques clandestins de l'âge classique (1996) and L?Oeuvre libertine de Bonaventure de Fourcroy (2005).The second day is devoted to sessions with papers (20 min each). The speakers may freely propose the themes; yet the following themes are encouraged:

  • The development of the themes and commonplaces of the Enlightenment in 18th century philosophical, literary and political discussions.
  • How was the 'thesis' of the Enlightenment manifested (cf. Kant, Was ist Aufklärung?) and how did these manifestations change after the 18th century?
  • What role have the 19th- and 20th-century representations of the Enlightenment played in later research and general opinion?
  • How do national differences show in the contemporary legacy of the Enlightenment. What was and is the significance of the Enlightenment in Sweden and Finland?
  • The Enlightenment as a utopia in the 18th century and after.

Organizing Committee: Minna Ahokas (Univ. of Helsinki), Timo Kaitaro (Univ. of Helsinki), Petter Korkman (Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies), Kari Saastamoinen (Univ. of Helsinki) and Charlotta Wolff (Univ. of Helsinki).

Deadline for abstracts: 31st May 2008. Please send an abstract (max. 200 words) of your proposition for a paper in the workshops to Timo Kaitaro (

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