This conference aims to interrogate the notion of “wars of religion” as a category within historiography and a concept within political philosophy.
The expression first appears in historiography at the start of the 18th century, when it is used to refer to the series of civil conflicts that had pitted Catholics against Protestants in many European countries during the 16th and 17th centuries. By extension it is often employed to characterize any civil war whose stakes are as much confessional as political. Two sets of questions are of particular interest to us: (1) What role does religion play in explaining the origin and character of the early-modern civil wars? To what extent can we really distinguish between wars of religion and other forms of civil war? (2) To what extent are we justified in extending this category to other geographical and historical contexts, such as the Sunni-Shiite conflicts of past and present? Does this have explanatory force or does it over-simplify to ideological effect?
The experience of the European wars played a decisive role in the development of political philosophy from Hobbes onwards. Philosophical reflection on the concept of wars of religion is therefore inseparable from the historiographical questions raised above. To what extent has the specifically religious dimension of civil conflict shaped the philosophical analysis of the modern state? And to what extent should it do so? We hope to facilitate a dialogue between historians of philosophy and normative theorists on these questions.
Dates and Times:
April 23, 2015, 9:15-6:30
April 24, 2015, 9:15-1:15
April 23, Rockefeller Classroom
April 24, Chancellor Green 105
Sponsored by: The Institut français, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and at Princeton University, the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, the University Center for Human Values, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion, the Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, the Department of French and Italian, the Program in European Cultural Studies.