Northwestern Events Calendar


Voltaire's Socrates and the Enlightenment Plato

When: Monday, April 24, 2023
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Political Theory Colloquium as they host Dr. Tae-Yeoun Keum, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  

This paper offers a novel reading of Voltaire’s Socrate (1759), presenting the play as a significant turning point contributing to the construction of “the Enlightenment Plato.” I read Voltaire’s play as an act of canon formation in the modern reception of Plato and Socrates. In particular, I make the case for situating the play in the context of a broader effort to navigate an interpretive crossroads that emerged in the Enlightenment, as eighteenth-century readers of Plato sought to negotiate between two dominant traditions in Platonic reception: Neoplatonism and Academic Skepticism. What was essentially an epistemological compromise between these two ancient traditions, however, gains a political aspect in Voltaire’s play.

Dr. Tae-Yeoun Keum joined UCSB in 2020, after four years as the Christopher Tower Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford. She is a political theorist broadly interested in ancient political thought and its reception, 20th century German social thought, and the intersection of political theory and literature. Her current research is on the role of symbols and myths in politics. Her first book, Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought (Belknap / Harvard University Press, 2020), examines Plato's myths and their modern legacy, in particular in the political thought of More, Bacon, Leibniz, the German Romantics, and Cassirer. She is working on a second book on Hans Blumenberg, the 20th century philosopher of myth, in the context of contemporary debates in Europe on the role of symbols, narratives, and the imagination in politics. 

To access the paper please reach out to Shawn Dean, Registration is not required for in-person attendence. 

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