Liberalism, Big Meaning and the Idea of Liberal Education
In my recent work (Strenger 2011, 2015, 2017) I have investigated the following problem: liberalism as it has evolved since the 17th century is based on the privatization of what I call "Big Meaning", i.e. the religious or metaphysical meaning of human existence as a whole. This privatization has liberated members of the free world from the coercion to believe and created the space to live according to our own beliefs, convictions and values. But this freedom has also created an enormous burden for members of the free world, as it has taken away the metaphysical protection of culturally entrenched meaning systems. My project at the Wissenschaftskolleg is to integrate existential psychology and political theory to build on my previous results to ask: is the project of human freedom itself capable of generating meaning that helps members of liberal societies avoid falling into the illiberal, sometimes religious and sometimes nationalist meaning systems that have been gaining ground both in Western and non-Western societies, or is liberalism doomed to have difficulty defending itself against illiberal meaning systems? In doing so, I will use recent work by theorists like Quentin Skinner, Charles Taylor and others who have been trying to flesh out richer notions of freedom and will connect these to the debate about the dangerous decline of the concept of liberal education.
Strenger, Carlo. Abenteuer Freiheit. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017.
-. Zivilisierte Verachtung: Eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Freiheit. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015.
-. The Fear of Insignificance: Searching for Meaning in the 21st Century. New York: Palgrave, 2011.
Publications from the Fellows' Library
Strenger, Carlo (
Israel : Einführung in ein schwieriges Land
Strenger, Carlo (
Zivilisierte Verachtung : eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Freiheit