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Religion and enlightenment

Language of instruction: English

About the module: The eighteenth century is usually known as the age of reason. However, it was a religious age as well. A small elite of philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hume did not hesitate to fiercely criticize revealed religion and the ecclesiastical institutions based on it. To be true, the relationship between religion and enlightenment is more complicated. 

Quite a lot of contemporaries managed to concoct a symbiosis of traditional religious elements and enlightened novelties, resulting in the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish Enlightenments, respectively. This key module covers the basic topics concerning the relationship between religion and enlightenment in a formative period of modern religious and cultural history. For example: the evolution of pre-modern and modern views of God, nature, and society from the comparative perspective, both temporally and internationally, and current theories of secularization.

Jan Wim Buisman

Lecturer: Dr. Jan Wim Buisman, Senior Lecturer of the History of Christianity, with a special focus on the early modern religious mentalities period. Particularly interested in the impact of natural disasters on views of God, man, and nature, especially during the Age of Enlightenment. His current research entails a broad study of the history of the introduction of Benjamin Franklin’s lightning-rod in Europe and its important consequences for the perception of thunderstorms on a cultural, technical, ethnological, and religious level.


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