Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Stay at Freie Universitaet Berlin
June - August 2014
The Theory and Practice of Natural Religion
Nils F. Schott's research currently focuses on the notion of Natural Religion and its place in eighteenth-century intellectual history. Concerned in particular with the practical aims of its proponents, Carl Friedrich Barth chief among them, Schott (1) develops a genealogy of the concept's modern instantiations since Herbert of Cherbury; (2) examines attempts made in the second half of the eighteenth century to make natural religion the basis of elementary education (Basedow, Bahrdt, etc.); and (3) considers how the critiques and transformations of natural religion (e.g. Schleiermacher, Comte) parallel those of Enlightenment culture more generally. In addition, he investigates the fact that most advocates of natural religion make use of dialogic textual forms.
Trained in Comparative Literature and Philosophy, Nils F. Schott's research concerns eighteenth-century literature and philosophy, their legacies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and their relevance today. His particular interest is in the role the theories, beliefs, and practices grouped under the heading "religion" play in the elaboration of a self-styled rational view of the world. Parts of his 2010 dissertation, The Conversion of Knowledge, have been published in various compendia. A widely published translator of philosophy and literary theory, he is the co-editor, with Hent de Vries, of Human Alert: Concepts and Practices of Love and Forgiveness (forthcoming from Columbia UP) and, with Alexandre Lefebvre, of Vladimir Jankélévitch's Henri Bergson and Other Writings (forthcoming from Duke UP).