On 16–17 December there will be a philosophical conference at Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, devoted to reconsidering the complex legacies of the European enlightenment: the realities of its history, and the vicissitudes of its contestation and receptions in the light of the events of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. 

Scholarly work in the history of 18th-century ideas calls into question postmodern images of the enlightenment as a single movement of thinkers characterised by a naïve, utopian rationalism closed to otherness or difference, and the affective, playful and poetic dimensions of thought, sociability and experience in ways that would lead, in time, to the horrifying European catastrophes of world wars and total states.

Works such as those by the keynote speakers Peter Anstey, Dennis Rasmussen, Karen Green and Genevieve Lloyd have explored the different strands of enlightenment thought, and the importance of deistic, empiricist, sceptical, literary, democratic, and moral-sentimental (as well as rationalist and materialist) strands of the French and British enlightenments. Read more.

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