Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Siegel

Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies

The IZEA was founded in 1990 as a central scientific institution of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. As a research institution for the history of culture and ideas, it explores the foundation of modern Western societies through the study of ideas and cultural patterns developed in the 18th century.

18th century studies

The research program includes research and publishing projects dedicated to a wide variety of themes, such as the history of universities, societies and communication; anthropology, aesthetics, culture and knowledge transfer, scholarly culture and literary forms of representation in the 18th century; the development of cultural patterns; the Enlightenment in global networks; and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz.

Connected with the region's research institutions

The IZEA is located in the Red School, built in 1896, which was formerly the Higher School for Girls of the Francke Foundations. The IZEA houses a public library containing primary sources and research literature related to the Enlightenment in regional and European contexts. The Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Modern Written Culture and European Knowledge Transfer and the Immanuel-Kant-Forum also have their offices in the building.

Enlightenment studies in international networks

Thanks to its outstanding library, its publishing projects, its geographic proximity to important historic sites related to the Enlightenment (including extensive archives, libraries and art collections), and its partnerships with major cultural and scientific institutions,  the IZEA is now one of the most important international research institutes dedicated to the study of the Enlightenment, and is an essential meeting point for scientists from around the world.

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.


[] G.W.F. Hegel

The Philosophy of the Enlightenment and its Critics (Hegel, Heidegger, neo-Aristotelianism, etc.)

Heiner F. Klemme

For this project, representative comments on the philosophy of the Enlightenment  will be examined and discussed on the basis of their factual and philosophical content. A focal point of the project will be practical philosophy and the theory of subjectivity. G.W.F. Hegel, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Philippa Foot, Elisabeth Anscombe and John McDowell will be among the philosophers under study.

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Obligation and Practical Reason

Heiner F. Klemme

The concept of obligation, which was introduced in the philosophical debate mainly by Christian Wolff, lies at the heart of this project. Its significance from a historical, philosophical and interdisciplinary perspective will be explored and discussed, while paying particular attention to the period of the Enlightenment.

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Philosophy of Religion after the Enlightenment

Jörg Dierken

The concept of philosophy of religion,  which emerged in 1770 denotes a way of thinking about religion which considers itself bound to reason. Conceptual and categorical reflection from and about the divine was admittedly already very old by then, but it acquired a new quality and dynamic dimension with the Enlightenment and the advent of modernity. An essential aspect of this is the fact that religion became understood as “the concern of Man” (Spalding).

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