events archive

The Academy 2016

University as it should be: two-day summer school for anyone interested in studying ideas.

9:00am, Saturday 23 July 2016, Wyboston Lakes, Great North Road, Wyboston, Bedfordshire MK44 3AL

Men in Philadelphia view map of Europe showing new nations, 1918. Source: Wikimedia

The Institute’s sixth Academy will consider the theme Europe: in perpetual crisis?

INTRODUCTION

Europe - as a geography, a way of living together, and as a concept with a history - came into being with the end of Christendom and the birth of a number of new worlds. Those new worlds can be considered as offering a number of differing perspectives on Europe. For Europeans, these new worlds enabled their process of development in a number of different ways. Firstly, there was the view from ‘over there’ - from the shores of new colonies in the Americas. Secondly, there was the view from ‘in here’: from the standpoint of independent men worshipping God in their own way after the Reformation, and with the end of the authority of both Pope and Emperor. Thirdly, there was the reimagining of Europe in the light of the scientific revolution.

But the birth of Europe was equally a result of a series of crises - spiritual and temporal - that have shaped its history right into the current moment. The Reformation’s break with the authority of Rome led to a century of bloody civil conflict that only found resolution in the birth of civil society and the nascent modern state. The Enlightenment contained within itself contradictory and oppositional trends that meant that reaction and progress advanced together through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And the unraveling of post-war arrangements in the twenty-first century has revealed the existence of unresolved conflicts, most notably in the form of today’s Culture Wars and Europe’s crisis of identity.

This Academy will attempt to look at Europe today in the light of Europe yesterday and to trace its conflictual and uneven development - aiming to ask just what is Europe, and what does it mean for those who would uphold the unique European legacy of universalism into Europe’s future.

PROGRAMME

SATURDAY

10:45-11:00
Welcome address:
THE IDEA OF EUROPE


11:00-12:30
Plenary 1:
DIVIDED AUTHORITY: THE TENSION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE

Professor Frank Furedi
The conflict between church and state, between Pope and Emperor, the contestation of authority and of legitmacy, is something uniquely European. The Church represented an autonomous source of authority independent of political power and provided a line of resistance to temporal rulers. This divided authority forced both sides to elaborate theories to legitimate their rule - both resorted to claims that depicted consent as a source of authority and led, in the long run, to the development of secular political theory - possibly Europe’s most distinctive ideal.

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


13:45-15:15
Lecture 1:
THIRTY YEARS’ WAR: REFORM AND REVOLUTION

Paul Lay, editor, History Today
The Thirty Years’ War was one of Europe’s most destructive conflicts involving a bitter religious struggle between Protestant and Catholic states which evolved into a generalised conflict for European political mastery. But it ended with the Peace of Westphalia which created a precedent for resolving conflict through diplomatic congress and inaugurated Westphalian sovereignty, or the concept of independent sovereign states co-existing in a balance of power: making non-interference in the affairs of other states the new norm.

Watch this lecture on YouTube.

Lecture 2:
THE COUNTER-REFORMATION: THE BATTLE OVER TRUTH

Dr Adrian Hilton
Catholic Christianity shaped European identity, but the Protestant Reformation heralded a theo-political schism in pursuit of a different truth. The 16th-century ecclesial divisions of Europe find contemporary echoes in the divergent north-south destinies of the European Union. Now, as then, heresy must be quashed and unity restored through educational initiatives and a mission to remodel the cultural foundations. Only by examining the conflicting truths of reformed authority, local autonomy, and the counter-reformed impulses to centralise power can we grasp the imperative truth of the distinctively Anglican via media.


15:45-17:15
Lecture 3:
WILLIAM OF OCKHAM, HIS RAZOR AND THE PREHISTORY OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

Professor Johnjoe McFadden
William of Ockham is most famous for Ockham’s razor, the principle that simple solutions are to be preferred over more complex ones. Although this principle has been crucial to the development of science in West, I will argue in this talk that William was also a key instigator of the cultural and intellectual revolution that became the prehistory of the Enlightenment. In the 14th century Ockham, a Franciscan monk, used his razor to disprove all the standard medieval ‘proofs’ of God and thereby, for the first time in the history of the world, separate science from religion. Although accused of heresy for his teachings he ended up accusing the Pope of heresy on the issue of property and rights. William developed his own theory which reversed the medieval dogma that property and rights were handed down from God to popes and princes who then passed them, in a much denuded form, to ordinary mortals. William instead argued that each individuals was endowed with natural rights that could not be removed by popes or princes. William’s razor of simplicity, his separation of science from religion and his establishment of natural rights eventually became the backbone of Western culture. William of Ockham thereby deserves to be recognized as a key figure in the prehistory of the Enlightenment.

Lecture 4:
THE EMERGENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL

Angus Kennedy
The Reformation ushered in a shift in authority from clergy to scripture, from obdience to the Word towards interpretation and opinion. Authority became grounded in a reading, in individual perspective, and open to debate. Being true to one’s conscience was more important than obedience to an external ruler: the self, the autonomy of the inner person, grew in importance and led to a conceptual distinction between subject and object, between the internal and the external world - to the emergence of the individual.

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


17:30-19:00
Plenary 2:
ENLIGHTENMENT UNIVERSALISM: EUROPE’S UNIQUE LEGACY

Dr Tim Black
From Kant’s idea that we are ‘citizens of the world’ to the concept of reason itself, the Enlightenment has long been conceived as a universal project. But how ought we to think about its universalism? Does it mean that we are all the same, or something else? And what should we make of the long counter-Enlightenment reaction to the claims made for the universality of Enlightenment ideas? How is universalism more than a mask for the will to power?

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


SUNDAY

9:30-11:00
Plenary 3:
ANTI-ENLIGHTENMENT REACTION AND THE BIOLOGY OF EVIL

Professor Ken Gemes
In Enlightenment rhetoric, as developed by philosophers such as Descartes and Kant, evil is typically configured as a species of error, a failure or misapplication of the faculty of reason. As such, evil is treatable, indeed it may be ultimately eradicated, through the ever widening influence of education and the light of reason.  In the 19th century a new biological model of evil became prominent.  On this model evil is seen as some kind of bodily infection which needs to be isolated or destroyed before it further infects the greater populace. The principal aim of this lecture is to trace the rise of this new model of evil and its embodiment in the 19th century discourse on degeneration. We will see how elements of the discourse of degeneration were inflected in literature, philosophy and psychology.

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


11:30-13:00
Plenary 4:
THE EU: THE PROJECT WITH NO NAME

Frank Furedi
From its inception, the project of European Unification associated the problem of nationalism, military conflict and totalitarianism with the unstable character of mass politics. Consequently the worthy objective of economic unity and continent wide co-operation and co-ordination was depoliticised and recast instrumentally as matters for technocrats and experts. The launching of the EU consolidated this process and, with the acquiescence of national governments, helped encourage the technocratic turn of public life. This session discusses the uneasy relationship of the project with no name with democracy and provides a background to Brexit.

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


14:30-15:30
Short Lecture 1:
THE TOTALITARIAN MOMENT: EUROPE IN THE ‘30S TO ‘50S

Bruno Waterfield
Across Europe in the 1930s a battle opened as totalitarians of the right and left sought power over man’s soul. This was not merely an exercise in traditional tyranny or authoritarianism but an attempt to break down informal relationships, to assault sovereignty and independence at the level of the nation and the individual. To destroy those boundaries of freedom that make us human, even to attack the mind itself. In Orwell’s 1984, O’Brien, the sinister party intellectual sets out the totalitarian project. “The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things but over men,” he tells Winston Smith. “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together in new shapes of your own choosing.”

Watch this lecture on YouTube.

Short Lecture 2:
THE LESSON OF THE EUROPEAN UNION: THE ANARCHY OF BUREAUCRACY

Christian Michel
Undemocratic and bureaucratic – those were the least derogative terms used to qualify the EU in the Brexit campaign. Is the former the cause of the latter? Do bureaucracies grow for lack of democratic governance? Anarchy does not mean a society without rules, but one without a master. We like to believe voters are the masters, or their elected representatives. But evidence across Europe shows this is hardly the case. Our societies are ever more administered, minutely regulated and tightly controlled. Bureaucracies go on producing rules, like machines on autopilot, and this lecture will explore ways we can regain control of the process.


16:00-17:30
Plenary 5:
CULTURE WARS: AFTER PARIS AND BRUSSELS

Josie Appleton
At the end of the Cold War many predicted that the end of political divides would lead to conflicts on cultural issues. Now young Europeans have attacked European cities in the name of Islam and Islamic state: what does this suggest about the divisions and tensions within European societies? What kind of ‘culture war’ are we witnessing?

Watch this lecture on YouTube.


READINGS

Core Reading

Brendan Simms, Europe: the struggle for supremacy
Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual
Zeev Sternhell, The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition
Tony Judt, Post-War
Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism
James Heartfield, The European Union and the End of Politics
Ivan Krastev, Democracy Disrupted
Thierry Baudet, The Significance of Borders

Reading for the Committed

Frank Furedi, Authority
Remi Brague, Eccentric Culture
George Steiner, The Idea of Europe
Thomas More, Utopia
Mark Greengrass, Christendom Destroyed 1517-1648
Paul Hazard, The European Mind
Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace and Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose
Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations
Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty
Hannah Arendt, On Violence
Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence
Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers