COM 414 / POL 481 / ECS 414

“What is Enlightenment”? Social and Political Theory in the Age that Defined “the Human”

Claudia Joan Brodsky

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Kant’s response to the question, “What is Enlightenment?”, posed in the Berlin Monthly in 1783, continued to arouse debate, as Foucault’s late return to Kant made plain. We will examine many of the formative texts of modern political and moral philosophy written during an era when the very concept of “the human” was interrogated as never before. In that they presume no extra-human foundation, these works turn out to be fundamentally interdisciplinary in reach, and include theories of government, knowledge, language, property, contractual and transnational rights. Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant are among the authors we read.

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