Seminar Series: Philosophy of Human Rights

This seminar: Heiner Bielefeldt on Kant's "What is Enlightenment?"

Convenors: Inga Bostad and Jakob Elster

Sculpture "Think partner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau, Stuttgart. Photo: SJL, via Wikimedia Commons

The purpose of this seminar series is to foster a discussion of the major topics in the philosophy of human rights, through the reading of central philosophical texts. Each session will consist of an introduction (ca. 30 minutes), where an invited speaker presents her/his interpretation of a chosen text and the philosophical issues it raises, followed by a general discussion. The seminar will include both fresh readings of classical philosophical texts and discussions of contemporary philosophical writings.

The texts we read will be made available in advance. As the introductions will be substantial, it will not be necessary to have read the texts in order to join the seminar, but it is of course recommended.

Heiner Bielefeldt on Kant's "What is Enlightenment?"

"'The small essay 'what is enlightenment?' belong to Kant's most popular texts, since it is short, readable and (comparatively) easily understandable. Nonetheless, one should not underestimate its systematic significance as a key text to Kant's moral and political philosophy in general. What Kant points out is that enlightenment requires active efforts of overcoming the state of tutelage with the purpose to unfold everyone's potential of responsible agency which, at the same time, must be presupposed and respected in every human being. Although every individual person is called up to embark in that never-ending process, enlightenment can only flourish as a joint public endeavor."


Published Jan. 10, 2017 9:16 AM - Last modified Jan. 10, 2017 9:22 AM