The Enlightenment in Bohemia

religion, morality and multiculturalism

Volume: 2011:07

Series: SVEC

Volume Editors: Ivo Cerman, Rita Krueger and Susan Reynolds

Series Collaborators: Ivo Cerman, University of South Bohemia; Louise Hecht, Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic; Martin Gaži, Institute of National Heritage, České Budějovice; Rita Krueger, Temple University; Jaroslav Lorman, Charles University, Prague; Claire Madl, Cefres in Prague; Rachel Manekin, University of Maryland; Helga Meise, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne; Andreas Önnerfors, University of Leiden; Susan Reynolds, The British Library; Pavel Sládek, Charles University, Prague; David Sorkin, The City University of New York; Michael Wögerbauer, Academy of Sciences of the Czech; Republic, Institute of Czech Literature.

Publication Date: 2011

Pages: 359

ISBN: 978-0-7294-1014-4

Price: £75


Recent discussion of the European Enlightenment has tended to highlight its radical, atheist currents of thought and their relation to modernity, but much less attention has been paid to the importance of religion. Contributors to The Enlightenment in Bohemia redress this balance by focusing on the interactions of moral philosophy and Catholic theology in Central Europe.

Bohemia’s vibrant plurality of cultures provides a unique insight into different manifestations of Enlightenment, from the Aufklärung of scholars and priests to the aristocratic Lumières and the Jewish Haskalah. Four key areas of interest are highlighted: the institutional background and media which disseminated moral knowledge, developments in secular philosophy, the theology of the Josephist Church and ethical debates within the Jewish Haskalah. At the centre of this fertile intellectual environment is the presence of Karl Heinrich Seibt, theologian and teacher, whose pupils and colleagues penetrated the diverse milieus of multicultural Bohemia.

The Enlightenment in Bohemia brings fresh insights into the nature and transmission of ideas in eighteenth-century Europe. It reaffirms the existence of a religious Enlightenment, and replaces the traditional context of ‘nation’ with a new awareness of intersecting national and linguistic cultures, which has a particular relevance today.

Ivo Cerman, Introduction: the Enlightenment in Bohemia
I. Enlightenment institutions and media
Rita Krueger, The scientific academy and beyond: the institutions of the Enlightenment
Ivo Cerman, The Enlightenment universities
Claire Madl and Michael Wögerbauer, Censorship and book supply
Helga Meise, Morality, fiction and manners in the moral weeklies in Prague
Andreas Önnerfors, Freemasonry and civil society: reform of manners and the Journal für Freymaurer (1784-1786)
II. The construction of a secular morality?
Ivo Cerman, Ethics and natural law: Jesuit Wolffianism in Prague 1750-1773
Ivo Cerman, Secular moral philosophy: Karl Heinrich Seibt
Ivo Cerman, Moral anthropology of Joseph Nikolaus Windischgrätz
III. Towards a Josephist moral theology
Martin Gaži, The Enlightenment from below: the Catholic regular clergy in Bohemia and Moravia
Jaroslav Lorman, The concept of moral theology of Augustin Zippe, a moral theologian at the turn of the epoch
IV. Morality in the Jewish world
Pavel Sládek, Ezekiel Landau (1713-1793) – a political rabbi
Louise Hecht, The Haskalah in Bohemia and Moravia: a gendered perspective
Rachel Manekin, The moral education of Jewish youth: the case of Bne Zion
David Sorkin, Afterword: the Enlightenment – Bohemian style?


Austrian History Yearbook

The book’s contributors provide a wealth of information that reveals the patterns of Enlightenment in Central Europe. […] The research shows Bohemian intellectual circles’ facility with multiple languages, social diversity, variety of organizations and institutions for intellectual exchange, and the convergence of secular ideas, French and German Protestant influenecs, and both the reformed and conservative strands of Catholicism and Judaism.

Voltaire Foundation

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