Friday, Jul 5 – Monday, Jul 8, 2024

Enlightenment on Trial

International Conference

Conception: Susan Neiman, Potsdam
with Aleida Assmann, Konstanz; David Bell, Princeton; Omri Boehm, New York/Berlin; Lorraine Daston, Berlin; Konstanty Gebert, Warsaw; Tyler Austin Harper, Lewiston; Stephen Holmes, New York; Daniel Kehlmann, Berlin; Philip Kitcher, New York; Ivan Krastev, Vienna; Claire Messud, Cambridge, Mass.; Fintan O’Toole, Dublin; Diana Pinto, Paris; Lutz Raphael, Trier; Cheryce von Xylander, Lüneburg; Kaveh Yazdani, Storrs; Lea Ypi, London; Benjamin Zachariah, Potsdam

2024 is the 300th anniversary of Immanuel Kant’s birthday. To celebrate the greatest philosopher of the Enlightenment, the Einstein Forum will host a series of events through September. Kicking off our Denkfest is a conference presenting the case against the Enlightenment along with arguments in its defense. The idea of putting the Enlightenment on trial stems from Kant himself. He often wrote of the tribunal of reason, and one of his greatest concerns was the charge that freedom of thought would lead to nihilism. Abandoning the Enlightenment, as so many urge us to do today, means not only abandoning efforts to cultivate our capacities for reason, but also three principles at the core of any progressive worldview: a commitment to universalism over tribalism, a belief in a hard distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress itself.