Conference: What was Moderate about the Enlightenment? Moderation in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Newcastle, January 17-18, 2022

In recent years, the moderate enlightenment has been invoked as the mainstream, conservative alternative to the radical enlightenment that failed. Historians more sympathetic to a moderate enlightenment have conflated it with religious enlightenment, whether Catholic, Anglican, Arminian or Presbyterian. Moderate enlightenment has implied a measured scepticism, the retreat from metaphysics and speculation, a turn to history, or compromise with established authorities. Rarely, however, has the relationship between moderation and enlightenment been considered in depth: the question ‘what was moderate about the Enlightenment?’ has received no comprehensive answer.

This conference approaches this question by exploring ideas, ideals and practices of moderation in the intellectual culture of eighteenth-century Europe. Submissions of papers are invited from scholars working on the enlightenment as an intellectual-historical and political-philosophical category, as well as scholars working on aspects of eighteenth-century European intellectual culture which engage moderation or its synonyms. Papers could consider:

  • Regional frameworks for approaching the moderate enlightenment.
  • Moderation in the thought of well-known, or more obscure, eighteenth-century intellectual figures.
  • The theoretical, conceptual and historiographical relationship between moderation and enlightenment.
  • Religious moderation, toleration and reformism in eighteenth-century Europe.
  • Prudence, self-restraint and civility in eighteenth-century commercial society.
  • Political moderation, pragmatism and bipartisanship before, and during, the French Revolution.
  • Frameworks of governance, discipline and control in eighteenth-century Europe.

It is anticipated that this will be a real-world conference taking place in Newcastle, UK. Funding is available to contribute to costs of travel and accommodation for participants. Participants will be invited to submit their contributions for consideration for inclusion in a special issue of the journal History of European Ideas.

Please submit short abstracts (150 words) by 30th September 2021, and any other queries, to nicholas.mithen@ncl.ac.uk  

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