The historical theme at the core of this conference is the early modern perception, stereotyping and understanding of the religious Other in both Western and Eastern cultures (16th–18th centuries).
The symposium will be articulated in two sessions:
- Enlightenment views of Judaism, Islam and Far Eastern Religions
- Early modern representations of the religious Other in Judaism, Islam and ‘Oriental’ Religions
Each session will focus on core concepts, such as religion, morality, and tolerance, and ‘radical’ representations of the religious Other.
Key questions to be ideally addressed include :
- How did religious groups view other religious groups in early modern (actual, fictional or scholarly) situations of contact, and how did they grasp them conceptually?
- Religious tolerance, it has been said, involves a complex blend of rejection and acceptance. Along with philosophically ‘radical’ and secularising claims for ‘universal toleration of all opinions, true and false,’ can we identify, both in early modern Europe and Asia, specific faith-based ‘orthodox’ conceptualizations of (communal and/or individual) religious tolerance?
- How was heterodoxy (with its long associations with deviancy, heresy, error, and dissent) determined in the case of each religious group? What was the effect (if any) of religious heterodoxy, anti-dogmatism and rationalism on the mainstream perception and representation of the religious Other?
- How did the encounter with the religious and cultural Other, with the distant Other, prompt a re-examination, or a re-interpretation, of one’s own convictions, as well as a legitimisation of the nearby Other?