Religion and Realism in Political Thought - Historical Perspectives and Recent Developments (July 15 - July 26, 2013)

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CEU Summer University
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Central European University, Budapest announces its international postgraduate summer course on "Religion and Realism in Political Thought - Historical Perspectives and Recent Developments" (July 15 - July 26, 2013) for graduate students and junior researchers and faculty preferably in humanities.

Detailed course information:


Course Directors:

Matthias Riedl, Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Hans-Jörg Sigwart, Institute of Political Science, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

Course Faculty:

Michael A. Gillespie, Department of Political Science, Duke University, Durham, USA
Alison McQueen, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, USA
Mark Philp, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, UK
Alexander Astrov, Department of International Relations and European Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Harvey C. Mansfield, Government Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
Matt Sleat, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, UK
Hendrik Hansen, Department of Comparative Government and International Law, Andrassy University, Budapest, Hungary

The course will examine the relationship between the region and political realism as a genuine constellation within Western political thought and philosophy. Focusing on most recent international debates as well as on historical perspectives, the course will particularly explore the connections of religious ideas with typically realist positions, such as the autonomy of politics, the emphasis on power and political leadership, the necessity to restrain human desires and passions, the disbelief in human perfectibility and the idea of historical progress, the observance of the limits of politics. This involves, on the one hand, the question of the religious origins of realism, for instance in the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, and, on the other hand, the question of the specifically "secular" or even anti-religious character of realist thought.

Accordingly, the course will deal with religious and non-religious justifications of (state) power and authority as well as with the realist critique of religiously inspired political enthusiasm and utopianism. Against this background, the general realist critique of the political implications of Christianity, the question of the significance of neo-pagan references both within the history as well as within most recent reformulations of Western political realism will be discussed.

Language of instruction: English

Application deadline: February 15, 2013