CfP: Rethinking Europe in Intellectual History

Where: Rethymnon Campus, University of Crete

When: 3-5 May 2016

Deadline: 15 January 2016

Keynote speakers: David Armitage (Harvard) and Etienne Balibar (Paris-Ouest Nanterre/Kingston University)


In recent debates regarding the status of intellectual history, the emergence of new academic objects such as global justice and sub-disciplines like global intellectual history, are symptoms of post-cosmopolitan, global sensibilities. By the same token important questions are raised regarding the emergence of systemic inequalities, cultural hegemonies and, more broadly, about unprecedented forms of post-colonial mentality within the globalized world. In this context, Europe’s status seems problematic. Decadence or mutation, the transfer of economic power outside Europe, the erosion of the middle classes and the status of European citizenship are emblematic issues in academia and the public sphere. Yet there is consensus around the unprecedented changes regarding Europe’s status in the world. Rethinking Europe’s identity(ies) and re-writing its history seem to be urgent issues in light of the Eurozone’s current crisis.

Call for Papers: 

Can we consider European studies a proper object of intellectual history? Is intellectual history a part of Europe’s foundational myths? What is the impact of European ideals and values in the mutations of global capitalism? Should we rethink Europe’s role in the history of global capitalism? Should we rethink the status of such traditions through the lens of intellectual history? Is the canonical conception of cultural, socio-economic or ethnic frontiers still valid today? Are we focusing closely enough on conceptions of cultural, socio-economic or political alterity within European studies? Is there enough research on infra-legal practices, such as manners or customs, in the shaping of Europe’s identities? To what extent is the emergence and subsequent erosion of Europe’s middle classes an object of intellectual history? Are there still understudied republican traditions in Europe? And, lastly, what is the status of ethnic enlightenments within European Enlightenment? “Rethinking Europe in Intellectual History” proposes to investigate the historical, contextual, and methodological issues that an intellectual history of Europe should raise, and to question the extent to which, as intellectual historians, our multiple perspectives can cohere in such a way as to enable us to address the problems now facing Europe and the world.

The range of potential subjects of investigation is extremely broad, and may include, but is not limited to:

  • European Enlightenment(s)?;
  • “Radical” and “pragmatic” Enlightenments;
  • Enlightenment legacies in Europe;
  • Classical and early modern republicanism in Europe;
  • The status of intellectual biographies;
  • Internal divisions of Europe: from North/South to East/West (and back);
  • Does Europe have a center?
  • EurAmerica: are Europe and America distinct entities?;
  • The European heritage and the challenge of global intellectual history;
  • Cross-cultural encounters between Europe and non-European societies;
  • Perceptions of Europe;
  • Russia and Europe
  • Empire and the attempts to extend European civilisation globally
  • The reception of the European legacy(ies) outside of Europe;
  • Islam, Judaism, and the formation of a European identity;
  • European centers and peripheries.

The first and principal form of contributions will be brief papers relating to the theme of “Rethinking Europe in Intellectual History” at large. Papers can concentrate on any period, region, tradition or discipline, including the arts, humanities, sciences, and various forms of professional learning. In addition to individual papers, we welcome proposals for panels of up to three papers and a commentator. Individual papers will be twenty minutes long, followed by ten minutes of discussion.




New Book: Hume’s True Scepticism

Donald C. Ainslie’s new book, Hume’s True Scepticism has been released by Oxford University Press. The book’s official description and table of contents can be found below. Donald Ainslie is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.


David Hume is famous as a skeptical philosopher but the nature of his skepticism is difficult to pin down. Hume’s True Scepticism provides the first sustained interpretation of Part 4 of Book 1 of Hume’s Treatise, his deepest engagement with skeptical arguments. Hume notes there that, while reason shows that we ought not to believe the verdicts of reason or the senses, we do so nonetheless. Donald C. Ainslie argues that Hume uses our reactions to the sceptical arguments as evidence in favour of his model of the mind. If we were self-conscious subjects, superintending our rational and sensory beliefs, nothing should stop us from embracing the sceptical conclusions. But instead our minds are bundles of perceptions with our beliefs being generated, not by reflective assent, but by the imagination’s association of ideas. We are not forced into the skeptical quagmire. Nonetheless, we can reflect and philosophy uses this capacity to question whether we should believe our instinctive rational and sensory verdicts. It turns out that we cannot answer this question because the reflective investigation of the mind interferes with the associative processes involved in reason and sensation. We thus must accept our rational and sensory capacities without being able to vindicate or undermine them philosophically.
Hume’s True Scepticism addresses Hume’s theory of representation; his criticisms of Locke, Descartes, and other predecessors; his account of the imagination; his understanding of perceptions and sensory belief; and his bundle theory of the mind and his later rejection of it.

Table of Contents:

1. Total Scepticism and the Challenge to Reason
2. The Phenomenology of Sensory Experience
3. Coherence, Constancy, and the Belief in Continuing Objects
4. Philosophical Reflections on Sensory Experience
5. Ancient Philosophy: Substances and Souls
6. Modern Philosophy: Persons and Perceptions
7. True Scepticism
8. Second Thoughts