Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Liberty and Fear: A History of Europe, 1000-2000
Social Sciences Building, Room 107.
Constantin Fasolt’s project develops a historically grounded diagnosis of our time. By bringing Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations to bear on what we already know about European history, he tries to show that circumstances coincided twice in the past millennium (ca. 1000, ca. 1500) to launch Europe on a new phase in its historical development, leading to new extremes of liberty and fear. Each phase began with an explosive exercise of liberty when a whole archive of old truths lost meaning to rapid social change. Each phase created a new society. Each phase ended with the violent disintegration of the new society and the remains of a new archive with a forgotten meaning. The diagnosis at which Fasolt arrives is that today we face the same conjunction of old truths with rapid social change that drove Europe to extremes of liberty and fear before. The question is whether we will respond in the same way or restrain our "craving for totality" (Stanley Cavell).
Constantin Fasolt studied philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Heidelberg from 1972–75. In 1981 he obtained a PhD in medieval history from Columbia University. Since 1983 he has been at the University of Chicago. From 2005–08 he served as Associate Dean of the College. His published books include: Council and Hierarchy: The Political Thought of William Durant the Younger (1991), and The Limits of History (2004). A current book is in press: Past Sense (2014). Academic honors include fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center.
- Cost: Free