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Public Lecture — Being Modern: What the Enlightenment Can Still Teach Us

May 27, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Location:Ottawa Public Library Main Auditorium
120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa

Speaker: Professor Douglas Moggach

The 18th century Enlightenment changed everything. “All that is solid melts into air,” as Karl Marx famously describes the modern world the Enlightenment inaugurates. Institutions, religious beliefs, cultural values, even the sense of ourselves as individuals and our place in nature and society: these are all now subject to critical examination, and must prove their validity in light of human reason.  This call to interrogate the legitimacy of reigning institutions remains a clarion call to human freedom, opposed to fundamentalisms of all kinds that continue to afflict the modern world.  The Enlightenment is incomplete, but it sets standards of rationality and ethical behaviour that remain vital to our present-day concerns.  In the face of challenges from irrationalists and sceptics, the legacy of the Enlightenment requires fulfilment, and not abandonment.  So at least Doug Moggach, internationally renowned political philosopher will argue, with special emphasis on the figures of the German Enlightenment.

Biography: Professor Douglas Moggach has a doctorate from Princeton University and has held the University Research Chair in Political Thought at the University of Ottawa.  His area of research interest is political thought and philosophy from 1650 to 1850.  He was named Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa in 2011