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April 17, 2010, 2:30 PM

Romanticism, Enlightenment, and Counter-Enlightenment

Participants: Akeel Bilgrami, Taylor Carman, Garrett Deckel, Colin Jager, Joel Whitebook

Isaiah Berlin introduced the work of a range of philosophers in the German romantic and German idealist tradition to the English-speaking world. His fascination with some of their ideas was accompanied by a concomitant anxiety about them. The anxiety issued from his staunch liberal commitment to the orthodox Enlightenment. Yet, the fascination was an implicit acknowledgement on his part of some of the limitations of the Enlightenment's liberal ideas. This roundtable will look at this underlying tension in Berlin, which many liberals feel to this day. Panelists will probe the role of reason, perception, and emotion in our individual and political psychology, and ask the question of whether or not there is something for liberalism to learn from what Berlin—rightly or wrongly—called the "Counter-Enlightenment."

Akeel Bilgrami is the Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and the Director of The Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. He is also a member of Columbia's Committee on Global Thought. He joined Columbia University in 1985 after spending two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His publications include the books Belief and Meaning, Self-Knowledge and Resentment, Politics and The Moral Psychology of Identity, and What is a Muslim?. He has published over 60 articles in Philosophy of Mind as well as in Political and Moral Psychology. Some of his articles on these latter subjects speak to issues of current politics in their relation to broader social and cultural issues.

Taylor Carman is Professor of Philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. He received his PhD in Philosophy and the Humanities from Stanford University in 1993. He has published articles on topics in phenomenology and the philosophy of mind and is the author of Heidegger's Analytic and Merleau-Ponty, and has co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty.

Garrett Deckel is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is in private practice in New York. She was previously a professor of Philosophy at New York University, and is the author of Internal Freedom.

Colin Jager is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Book of God: Secularization and Design in the Romantic Era, and of many articles on romanticism and its politics, as well as on atheism, secularism, secularization, and cognitive literary studies. In 2008 and 2009 he was co-director of the "Mind and Culture" project at the Center for Cultural Analysis.

Joel Whitebook is a philosopher and practicing psychoanalyst. He is on the faculty of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. In 2009 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from The New School for Social Research and his "Psychoanalysis, Loewald and the Project of Autonomy" was named the best article of the year by the The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Whitebook is writing an intellectual biography of Freud for Cambridge University Press and his book Der gefesselte Odysseus: Studien zur Kritischen Theorie und Psychoanalyse was published by Campus Verlag in 2009.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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