Reconsidering the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment has been in need of critical reevaluation ever since thinkers as different as Theodor Adorno and Martin Heidegger began to see it as the major source of evil in the modern age. How did the Enlightenment earn such a dim view, and how justified is it? Are there Enlightenment values still useful today? It is particularly vital that these questions be raised in Potsdam, a city with deep historical ties to the Enlightenment tradition.

Work in progress:

Susan Neiman is working on a new book titled Heroes ReViewed for Harvard University Press scheduled to appear in 2021. Expanding on her 2012 Tanner Lectures, she argues that Enlightenment ideals need heroes and considers what the very different archetypes provided by Odysseus and Achilles can offer us today.


Related events:
Conferences and workshops:
Why Grow Up? (2015)
Verdammte Helden / Heroism Reconsidered (2009)
Ein Philosophenstreit über die Erziehung und andere Gegenstände – Aus Denis Diderots Widerlegung des Helvetius gezogen (2004; co-organized with Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Jan Philipp Reemtsma, and Lorraine Daston)
Wozu noch Aufklärung? [“Why do we still need the Enlightenment?”] (2001)


Selected publications:
Susan Neiman,Why Grow Up? (2015; translations in German, Chinese, Italian, Korean, and Dutch; expanded new edition in 2016)

Susan Neiman, “Victims and Heroes,” in Mark Matheson, ed., The Tanner Lectures on Human Values (2012)