Beginning with Paul Hazard’s seminal analysis of the crisis of the European mind, scholars have provided different if not complementary approaches to the transformation of western civilization which enabled the still unfolding process of modernity. Some of them have claimed that around the 1650s-1680s an intellectual and cultural crisis occurred, ‘which rapidly overthrew theology’s age-old hegemony in the world of study, slowly but surely eradicated magic and belief in the supernatural from Europe’s intellectual culture and led a few openly to challenge everything inherited from the past.’ (Israel, 2001) Others, instead, have downplayed the extent to which the crise involved a radical rupture with the modes of thought inherited from the late Humanistic past, emphasising the persistent relevance of ancient philosophy, biblical philology, and erudition to Enlightenment debates, om the one hand, or stressing the centrality in eighteenth-century culture of the religious and intellectual problems unleashed by the catholic and protestant Reformations, on the other.
This Zoom Webinar is intended to place into conversation leading intellectual historians about the nature and extent of intellectual change in Europe between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century. How helpful are notions such as ‘long-Reformation’, secularization or (religious) pluralism to understand the crisis of the European mind from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century? Are the concept of Renaissance and Enlightenment(s) always indispensable to understand the changes in political, religious, intellectual, and social culture occurring simultaneously in distinct areas of early modern Europe? And how does the analysis of the transmission and reception of books and ideas contribute to the debate about the national vs cosmopolitan dimension of such changes? These and other questions will be addressed by the participants