[SydPhil] MQ Philosophy Seminar on Tuesday the 14th of March: Clare Monagle (MQ)

Adam Hochman adam.hochman at mq.edu.au
Fri Mar 10 17:02:39 AEDT 2017

The History of the Person: Scholastic Theology and Human Rights

Clare Monagle (MQ)

Date: Tuesday, 14th of March
Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Venue: W6A 708, Macquarie University

ABSTRACT: Human rights history has taken a surprisingly scholastic turn in recent years. The new human rights history, as exemplified by the work of Samuel Moyn, has begun to take heed of the highly influential role played by neo-Thomist thinkers, such as Jacques Maritain, in the making of the Declaration of 1948. Human rights history had been understood, too often, as a story of liberalism’s inexorable rise. The new human rights historians, however, have performed contextualising histories of the post-war period to argue that the events of 1948 signalled, instead, a victory of the theology of personalism. Personalism was a third-way theology designed to broker the abyss between liberal capitalism and communism, and was constructed via Thomistic theology by a number of leading Catholic intellectuals.

Intellectual histories of modernity have not tended to the theological, paying much closer attention to explicitly secular genealogies within western thought. Normative accounts of the history of ideas privilege the early modern as the place of origin. The incorporation of scholastic theology into the history of human rights troubles this account, and destabilises the medieval/modern divide. Medievalists will not be surprised by the role of neo-Thomism in modern thought. Historians of medieval political theory, most notably Cary Nederman, have tracked the long tail of scholastic ideas in western thought. And in terms of modernity’s self-construction, scholars such as Carolyn Dinshaw, Kathleen Biddick and Kathleen Davis have taught us to pay attention to the way discourses of modernity repeatedly produce the ‘medieval’ in order to disavow it.

In my paper, I will do two things. Firstly, I will read Maritain’s medievalism, making sense of his intellectual and spiritual commitment to Aquinas, and mapping that onto his advocacy of human rights. Secondly, I will read how the field of human rights history deals with this incursion of the theological. In so doing, I will advocate for a theologically inflected intellectual history of modernity. My case study, that of Maritain’s medievalism, reveals the necessity of tracking the uses of the Middle Ages in the making of our political modern, as well as offering the opportunity to unpack the ideas that all too often go unspoken. To put it another way, following Cary Nederman, ‘the foreigness of the medieval world may have salutary decentering effects upon our complaisant contemporary assumptions about political life and its relation to a whole host of other philosophical questions.’

Contact: Adam Hochman (adam.hochman at mq.edu.au<mailto:adam.hochman at mq.edu.au>) or Mike Olson (michael.olson at mq.edu.au<mailto:michael.olson at mq.edu.au>)

A google calendar with details of other events in this series is available for viewing and subscription by following this link: https://goo.gl/56sotM


Adam Hochman - Lecturer in Philosophy & Macquarie University Research Fellow

Department of Philosophy | W6A, Room 733
Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia

Staff Profile | http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/department_of_philosophy/staff/adam_hochman/

Personal Website | adamhochman.com

Academia.edu Page | https://mq.academia.edu/AdamHochman

Philpapers Page | http://philpapers.org/profile/48626

T: +61 2 9850 8859<tel:%2B61%202%209850%206895>  |  arts.mq.edu.au<http://arts.mq.edu.au/><http://arts.mq.edu.au/><http://mq.edu.au/>

[Macquarie University]<http://mq.edu.au/>

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