Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series
The Washington, D.C., Political Theory Colloquium, founded by Alan Levine in 1995, brings noted speakers to campus each semester. Its central purpose is to provide a focal point for the community and provide a real sense of intellectual excitement. We hope to engage the community and classrooms in a common conversation.
September 30, 2014: "Philosophy and Secrecy: On The Forgotten Practice of Esoteric Writing"
Dr. Arthur Melzer, Michigan State University
5:30 PM, Hughes Formal Lounge
For the first two millennia of Western intellectual history, philosophers routinely wrote "esoterically," communicating their most unorthodox thoughts only between the lines. But over the last two centuries this practice gradually declined and then was altogether forgotten. Today the whole idea is indignantly denied. This lecture seeks to recover the lost history of esoteric writing, demonstrating its reality and explaining its purpose.
Arthur Melzer is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy, an independent research center housed at Michigan State University. Prof. Melzer received his BA from Cornell University and his PhD from Harvard University. He has been awarded research fellowships by the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Educational Affairs, the Earhart Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a winner of the MSU Social Science Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. His writings include: The Natural Goodness of Man: On the System of Rousseau's Thought (University of Chicago Press, 1990), and most recently Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (University of Chicago Press, 2014).