Past and Present of the Enlightenment Ideas

Projekt: Forskning



While the critique of the Enlightenment is as old as the Enlightenment project itself, the past decades have experienced an intensified, more disparaging criticism in trends such as poststructuralism, post-humanism, post-colonialism and post-secular theology. The burden of debt is placed on the Enlightenment, accused of establishing the hubris of reason and science that paved the way for the 20th century catastrophes. The main purposes of the present research project are 1) to discuss the validity of this criticism from several perspectives, informed by a deeper historical knowledge, and profiting from research tools developed in cognitive semiotics and cognitive history of ideas (Dunér & Ahlberger 2018); 2) to make intellectual room for a view of the Enlightenment legacy that keeps the virtues of critique alive, bringing Enlightenment ideas to bear on contemporary issues, while integrating knowledge produced in more recent scholarly traditions.
We will be concerned with ideas and ideals having emerged during the Enlightenment, notably within the faction designated as the "radical Enlightenment" by Israel (2001), who were the essential originators of what is today considered to be Enlightenment ideas, or more specifically 1) human rights, as they are specified in the corresponding American, French, and United Nation declarations, but also other ideas which are implied or, but not explicitly stated, in those declarations, such as 2) tolerance and 3) sociability/brotherhood, 4) the critique of traditions and prejudices; and 5) reason, not comprehended merely in the sense of rational calculus, as in the deformed understanding of Enlightenment critics, from the Frankfurt school (Horkheimer & Adorno 1947) to Foucault (2008), but as practical deliberation, within an environment of everyday thinking and feeling.
StatusEj startat