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In June 2020, the prominent lecture series of the Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin will take place for the second time at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The renowned philosopher and political scientist Nancy Fraser will hold the lectures. More information will follow shortly.

In June 2019, the Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin launched this new event format, the annual Walter-Benjamin-Lectures. The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor inaugurated the series. In a sequence of three evening lectures, Taylor addressed “Democracy and its Crises”, covering various forms of democratic deterioration, such as political alienation, increasing inequality, xenophobia and polarization, as well as possible ways out of crisis. You can watch the videos of his lectures.

The Benjamin-Lectures are named after the Berlin-born philosopher Walter Benjamin and dedicated to his intellectual integrity and political commitment in the face of historical catastrophe. Each year, inspired by the Amsterdam Spinoza-lectures as well as the “Adorno-Vorlesungen” in Frankfurt, the Benjamin-Lectures will bring one leading critical theorist to Berlin. His or her public lectures will allow for a broad audience to partake in the latest debates on social and political issues of core concern. Prior to the lectures, the invited speaker will hold the Walter-Benjamin-Chair at the HSC Center Berlin and spend up to three months in close cooperation with the HSC academic community.

The Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin was founded in 2018 at Humboldt-University, Berlin, and is directed by Rahel Jaeggi. Research at the Center focuses on the crises of democracy and capitalism, spanning from diagnostic observation to conceptual groundwork. Hosting event series, a fellowship-program, and multiple research projects, the Center is a place both for scholarly work and social engagement.

Save the Date! The next Benjamin Lectures will take place on June 17, 18 and 19, 2020. More information will follow shortly.

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Press inquiries are coordinated by the HSC Center. Please contact Susann Schmeißer.

Benjamin Lectures 2019: Charles Taylor on "Democracy and its Crises"

In June 2019, the Walter Benjamin Lectures took place for the first time at the Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The renowned Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor inaugurated the prominent series. On three consecutive evenings, Taylor gave lectures on “Democracy and its Crises”, covering various forms of democratic deterioration, such as political alienation, increasing inequality, xenophobia and polarization, as well as possible ways out of crisis.

Charles Taylor is one of the most important thinkers of our time. His early work on the embeddedness of cognition in the life world alone represents a paradigm shift in the social sciences. Guided by his novel reading of Hegel, Taylor subsequently embarked on an extraordinary research program: to elucidate and overcome the contradictions of modernity in the light of modernity’s own development, drawing out its limitations and imbalances. This project is laid out in two monumental monographs, one on the history of the self and one on secularization. More recently, Taylor has brought the motif of obscured social grounds to bear on questions of democratic politics and has developed a recognition-theory of tolerance. He has traced progressive trajectories, yet also started to analyze how the disavowal of shared values, imaginaries, and social relations unleashed destructive tendencies.

The Benjamin-Lectures advanced these investigations. In Berlin, Taylor proposed a trenchant diagnosis of the contemporarty threats to democratic societies. Moving from crisis to resources for potential remedy, the Lectures assembled an encompassing picture of our time.

You can watch video recordings of Charles Taylor’s lectures.