In the second decade of the fourteenth century, Dante wrote the Monarchia, a treatise of political theology deeply rooted in the philosophy of his time, yet conspicuously original in its treatment of secular and ecclesiastical authority. Immediately attacked by the Church, and later banned until 1881, the treatise was long relegated to the margins of the history of political theory. In 1993, Claude Lefort re-established the importance and contemporary relevance of the treatise in an extensive introduction, entitled ‘La modernité de Dante’, for a French translation of the Monarchia.
The symposium takes its cue from Lefort’s suggestive invitation to reconsider Dante’s endorsement of a ‘temporal monarchy’, that is, a secular order restricted to humankind’s common pursuit of earthly happiness and hence fully independent from the Church. Lefort sketches the political reception of Dante’s treatise, referenced by humanist advisors of princes, jurists of absolutist rule, and historians of nation-states alike, which, for him, testifies to a profound historical eccentricity of Dante’s conception rather than a teleology inherent to the modern history of the West. For Lefort, ‘the past always interrogates our present’.
But how can a text of many context-bound contestations such as the Monarchia interrogate present political circumstance? Can Lefort’s reading serve as a model of a historically reflected political philosophy? How to account for historical efficacy without risking a reamalgamation of history and ideas into a redemptive philosophy of history? How to make sense of the entanglement the Monarchia posits between knowledge, happiness, and politics? What is Dante’s conception of the common, what its relation to an essentially collective knowledge that can only be pursued in universal peace?
The symposium brings together scholars from different fields in order to reconsider the Monarchia in dialogue with Lefort’s suggestions and discuss its potentials and limits for imagining politics today.
Judith Revel (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) will give the keynote lecture.
Saturday, 6 July
10:00 Morning coffee
10:15 Welcome by Christiane Frey, Manuele Gragnolati, Christoph Holzhey, Arnd Wedemeyer
10:30 Jennifer Rushworth: Translating Lefort on Dante
11:00 Karl-Heinz Ladeur: Dante and the Possibilities of the Law. The Epistemic Crisis of the Late Medieval
11:30 Franziska Meier: The Gap in the Construction of the Monarch
12:00 Coffee break
12:30 Manuele Gragnolati – Christoph Holzhey: ‘La distinction entre deux fins dernières’: Poetic Approaches to the Paradox of Happiness in the Commedia and the Monarchia
13:00 Nicolò Crisafi: Exceptions to the Rule: Realms of epikeia, Affect, and Peculiarity in Dante’s Monarchia
13:30 Elisa Brilli: Lefort, Dante, and the ‘brighe del tempo’ (Convivio IV ii)
14:00 Lunch break
15:30 Christiane Frey: Dante’s Permanence, Lefort’s History
16:00 Facundo Vega: Le travail de l’œuvre Lefort: Enigmas of Democracy and Bodies that Matter
16:30 Arnd Wedemeyer: Claude Lefort and the Test of the Irreversible
17:00 Coffee break
17:30 Matthias Roick: Lefort and the Modernity of Civic Humanism Between Dante and Machiavelli
18:00 Andrea Lanza: Dante moderne pensé par Lefort, ou des tensions de la notion lefortienne de modernité
18:30 Franco Costantini: Les parties pensent-elles le tout? La modernité de Dante à travers Borges
19:30 Keynote. Judith Revel: Lefort/Dante: lire, déformer, transformer
Christiane Frey, Manuele Gragnolati, Christoph F. E. Holzhey, and Arnd Wedemeyer for the ICI Berlin
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Image Credit by © Dovilé Aleksaite and Giuseppe Boccassini