Philosophy Seminar Series: Kristin Gjesdal – School of Humanities Philosophy Seminar Series: Kristin Gjesdal – School of Humanities

Philosophy Seminar Series: Kristin Gjesdal

Philosophy Seminar Series

Kristin Gjesdal | Temple University | Wednesday 25 October 3:30pm

A Malady of the Soul: Germaine de Staël on Passions, Politics, and Fanaticism

Over a period of more than two decades, Germaine de Staël tackles the philosophical dimensions of political fanaticism and our responses to it. Discussions of enlightenment approaches to fanaticism typically ignore her contribution. Similarly has Staël’s discussion of fanaticism been overlooked within scholarship on her work. This presentation seeks to highlight Staël’s contribution to the philosophical discussion of fanaticism. While accepting the basic enlightenment phenomenology of fanaticism (its dangers and its challenges), Staël launches her analysis of fanaticism from within her larger moral psychology. She sees fanaticism as part of a web of passions with which we are all familiar and suggests, from within this framework, a set of productive responses. In this way, she challenges Voltaire’s identification of fanaticism and religion and his notion of the fanatic as being beyond both reason and the worthiness of tolerance. Staël’s model is philosophically robust, politically relevant, and indeed worthy of our attention when we seek to map the phenomenon of fanaticism and the historical roots of our responses to it.

… Followed by book launch
The talk will be immediately followed by the book launch event featuring Associate Professors Luke Russell & Luara Ferracioli at the Chau Chak Wing Museum.


In person Event:
Philosophy Seminar Room (N494) in the Quadrangle

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Image: Photo by Micha Frank


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Oct 25 2023


3:30 pm


Professorial Board Room
The University of Sydney, Quadrangle A14



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