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Global Humanities Distinguished Lecture with Philippe Roger

GHDL 2016 | Roger

The Dilemma of Sacrifice in French Thought, From the Enlightenment to the Revolution

Philippe Roger is directeur d'études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Global Dinstinguished Professor of French at the New York University. He was in Berlin in May 2016 for a Global Humanities Senior Research and Teaching Stay.

The Age of Enlightenment has been highly suspicious of the notions of sacrifice and self-sacrifice, which were deemed to be intrinsically linked to a religious or superstitious way of thinking. A major paradox of modern Western cultural history is the strong revival of those notions at the very end of the XVIIIth century, in the wake of the French Revolution. While the French Revolution appears, on many grounds, as an ideological heir to the Enlightenment, it also provided a favourable context for reactivating and rephrasing the discourses of sacrifice and self-sacrifice as political discourses, thus creating a new link between politics and sacralisation. In many respects, we still live with this ambiguous heritage.

In addition to the lecture, a workshop with Philippe Roger has taken place in the afternoon:

Reshaping ‘Sacrifice’ in the Encyclopédie 

Friday, May 27, 2016; 2 - 4 pm

This workshop will focus on the treatment of the notion of sacrifice in Diderot’s Encyclopédie. Two articles in particular, "Sacrifice" and "Dévouement", will allow us to analyze the strategies put at work by the Encyclopedists to question, dismiss, reshape and secularize the religious notion of sacrifice. If time allows, we might want to evoke Rousseau’s contrasting views and personal claim on sacrifice.