The Islamic World and the Radical Enlightenment: Toleration, Freethinking and Personal Liberty

The Islamic World and the Radical Enlightenment: Toleration, Freethinking and Personal Liberty

Jonathan Israel
Institute for Advanced Study
May 21, 2008

Jonathan Israel, Professor, School of Historical Studies.  In the 1660s and onward, the Radical Enlightenment pushed for full freedom of thought, religious freedom, and personal liberty together with democracy and the principle of equality. In this lecture, Jonathan Israel will address how this part of the Western Enlightenment used medieval Islamic freethinkers and their ideas, and interpreted the special features of Islamic society and politics to illustrate and broaden its own arguments for transforming the Western World.  In recent years, this intellectual movement has been much more intensively studied and better understood, and this lecture -- the outgrowth of a highly innovative colloquium recently held at the Institute, Islamic Freethinking and Western Radicalism -- will highlight recent research into what might be broadly termed the Democratic Enlightenment. 

This lecture is presented with support provided by the Dr. S.T. Lee Fund for Historical Studies.