Cosponsored by the Religions and Public Life initiative, the Center on Modernity in Transition (COMIT), and the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, the Liberal Imaginary and Beyond online series aims to examine the origins, contents, and development of post-war liberalism, as well as to consider significant attempts to move beyond the resultant liberal imaginary without casting aside its impressive moral and political achievements. The series springs from COMIT’s goal of creating spaces for research, writing, and dialogue on essential questions related to the discourse on global-civilizational crisis and humanity’s potential response.
Religious Influences on Post-War Liberalism
Malachi Hacohen and Samuel Moyn discuss the relative influence of Judaism and Christianity upon liberalism’s evolution after the Second World War, as well as the possible role that religious ideas might again play in shaping future developments of political thought.
Secularism and the Political Culture of Modern Societies
Charles Taylor and Akeel Bilgrami think together about secularism’s influence upon the political culture of modern societies. The conversation will re-examine some of the questions raised in the edited volume, Beyond the Secular West, which examined the applicability of Taylor’s vision of North Atlantic secularism to other regions of the world.
The Future of Cosmopolitanism
Seyla Benhabib and Kwame Anthony Appiah share their thoughts about the role that cosmopolitanism can play in shaping ethical and political thought in an age of increasing global integration. The speakers will explore the relationship between cosmopolitanism and liberal thought, as well as consider the relationship between moments of heightened cosmopolitan sentiment and those in which enthusiasm for the ideal of common humanity appears to be in retreat.
Oneness and Difference in the Discourse on Race
A key dilemma that has long shaped ethical and political discussions of the legacy of radical injustice concerns the relative importance of “oneness” and “difference.” To what extent, when considering questions of race, should the unity and equality of all humans be emphasized and/or the unique histories, realities, and experiences of historically oppressed peoples be given center stage? In this conversation, Lawrence Blum and Derik Smith think together about this and other related questions, drawing upon both their academic research and their experiences as activists.
Worldviews and World Politics
Prasenjit Duara and Bentley Allen discuss the role that worldviews play in shaping world politics, focusing particularly on how the background assumptions of the liberal imaginary stimulate environmental degradation. These observations lead them to consider the role that worldview transformation must play in allowing humanity to address the many, pressing crises of the day.
Giants of Post-War Liberalism: Isaiah Berlin and John Rawls
Among the many figures who influenced liberal thought after the Second World War, the legacies of Isaiah Berlin and of John Rawls stand out with particular force. In this talk, Arie Dubnov and Andrius Galisanka discuss the respective roles that each of these thinkers played in consolidating the post-war liberal imaginary. They additionally consider the relative strengths and limitations of the two thinkers’ ideas in light of contemporary social and political affairs.
Political Theology and the Foundations of Liberal Thought
The discussion of the role of religion, and specifically of Christianity, in public life is central to both modern political and theological thought. Luke Bretherton and Charles Mathewes accordingly discuss their views of the contemporary dilemmas and tasks that the Christian tradition of political theology face, both in historically democratic countries and on the global stage.
Confucianism and Modern Political Thought
Joseph Chan and David Wong consider the role that Confucianism might play in expanding the possibilities of contemporary political thought. They reflect on the extent to which Confucianism should be considered a resource for expanding and reinforcing certain liberal ideals, or as providing an alternative context within which the relative insights and limitations of liberalism can be freshly understood.