The University of Texas at Austin - Civitas Institute

A Symposium on Reason in Crisis

Study the Enlightenment: Failed Dream or Unfulfilled Promise?

Jul 23
Jul 29
12:00 PM - 8:00 AM University of Austin Rolling Admissions — Apply by May 21 APPLY

July 23 – 29

“It is so convenient to be immature!” Immanuel Kant wrote. “If I have a book to have understanding in place of me, a spiritual adviser to have a conscience for me, a doctor to judge my diet for me, and so on, I need not make any efforts at all. I need not think, so long as I can pay; others will soon enough take the tiresome job over for me.”

Kant was not content with such childlike apathy. As one of the Enlightenment’s heralds, he championed “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” Centuries later, the success of the Enlightenment project can hardly be underestimated.

Yet, even within liberal democracies, commitment to Enlightenment principles is now wavering. On the political left, so-called progressives blame the Enlightenment for the hegemony of capitalist exploitation, oppression of minorities, and the rise of oligarchy. On the right, so-called post-liberals blame the Enlightenment for the collapse of religion, family, and community. Above all, moral relativism and absolutism challenge us to reevaluate the Enlightenment and its foundations.

In partnership with UATX, we are proud to offer a one-week symposium to top graduate students and advanced undergraduates (i.e., current juniors and seniors) in all fields.

Through intensive study of foundational texts, students will study the Enlightenment’s theoretical framework as it emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries. Readings will include those by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In addition to a daily seminar and optional discussion sections, students will enjoy the opportunity to explore Austin through various events and activities.

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