Pierre Bayle Lecture: The Gravity of Satire

Since 1990 the Pierre Bayle Foundation organizes the bi-annual Pierre Bayle Lecture. Prominent scholars and intellectuals are invited to shed light on topical issues. Previous lecturers include Martha Nussbaum, Jonathan Israel, Kwame Appiah and Susan Neiman.

This year, on the 27th of November Justin E.H. Smith will deliver, in Arminius, the Pierre Bayle Lecture, entitled ‘The Gravity of Satire: Freedom and Offense after Charlie Hebdo’. Justin Erik Halldór Smith (1972) holds dual US and Canadian citizenship. He studied at the University of California and took his PhD at Columbia University (2000). In 2013 he was appointed University Professor at the University of Paris Diderot. He is without a doubt one of the most brilliant intellectual historians of his generation. Having published a major book on Leibniz (Divine Machines, 2011) as well as an extremely impressive analysis of early modern racism (Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference, 2015), next year The Philosopher: A History in Six Types will appear, after which a A Global History of Philosophy is scheduled to appear in 2018. To date, Justin Smith has mastered ten languages, including Sanskrit and Russian, and his more general essays have been published in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times and on his weblog www.jehsmith.com.

In ‘The Gravity of Satire’ Justin Smith will offer a genealogy of satire, opening up the possibility of overcoming the deadlock between the faithful, demanding respect for holy texts, and ‘enlightened’ critics who claim the right to make fun of these texts.

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