A. Ideas, Practices, Institutions
1. Cultural Patterns of the Enlightenment
Enlightenment studies in the last decades have taken an either very critical or very favourable stance towards their object of study. The project “cultural patterns of the Enlightenment” seeks to overcome these biases and to ask anew the question of the legacy of the Enlightenment and of its significance for the present. It does not situate the debate in favour or against the principles of the Enlightenment, but rather seeks to reconstruct its long-terms ideals and its practical impact.
2. Enlightenment Thought: Concepts, Arguments, Systems
The era of the Enlightenment is considered as the century of philosophers. The research field “the thought of the Enlightenment” offers projects that focus on philosophical concepts, arguments, and systems (all in the broadest possible sense) in the “Age of reason” from a historical and systematic perspective. The emphasis lies on the investigation of the reception and effects of the Enlightenment within Europe, as well as on the current relevance of its emancipatory project.
3. Enlightenment between the Conflicting Priorities of Critique and Power
The Enlightenment was by nature a critical project. Its goal was to challenge traditional powers and hegemonic structures, goal which found varying expressions depending on the area and culture. Authority was no longer self-evident, but had to be accounted for and legitimated in response to new demands for rationality.