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Sinopoli Memorial Speaker: Ronald Beiner

Ronald Beiner gives a talk, "Dangerous minds in dangerous times"

Apr 12, 2019
from 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM

Kerr Hall 693

Abstract: We liberals tend to assume that liberal education promotes liberalism. Is this a form of liberal complacency in need of serious reconsideration in the wake of jolts to liberal-democratic self-understanding administered by the rise of right-wing populism (including Trumpism and Bannonism)? The contemporary alt-right has its own intellectuals, who very much pride themselves on being an intellectual vanguard. There is a far-right canon, which, somewhat alarmingly, overlaps with the established canon within mainstream philosophy and political theory. In "Dangerous Minds," I quote a book review on a far-right website that offers the following list of intellectual beacons for the alt-right: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, and Alexander Dugin. It’s quite striking that the first three thinkers on this list have also been warmly embraced by the academic left. Don’t we need to start giving serious attention to how some of our favorite authors are being read by the far right, rather than naively assuming that they are essentially resources for progressive and egalitarian politics?

Ronald Beiner is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His books include "Political Judgment" (1983); "What's the Matter with Liberalism?" (1992); "Philosophy in a Time of Lost Spirit" (1997); "Liberalism, Nationalism, Citizenship" (2003); "Civil Religion" (2011); "Political Philosophy: What It Is and Why It Matters" (2014); and "Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right" (2018). He is also the editor of Hannah Arendt's "Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy" (1982).