Kant@300 – A series of publish seminars and academic conferences to mark the 300th anniversary of Immanuel Kant’s birthday. (PI: Jens Hanssen, Sami Khatib; Partner: MECAM Tunis)

"What does enlightenment mean today and the Arab Nahda tomorrow?"

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Königsberg philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the OIB Beirut & Cairo Offices, together with the DAAD Cairo, our partners at MECAM in Tunis and other academic institutions in Egypt, Lebanon, the region and worldwide, are organizing a series of public seminars and academic conferences on Kantian concepts such as enlightenment, (public use of) reason and freedom, with special attention to the future relevance of the Arab Nahda. The Nahda historically encompasses the reform and renaissance period from the beginning of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century. For some interpreters this epoch represented the beginning of a still ‚unfinished Arab urge for enlightenment and emancipation.‘ For others, it marked the ‚self-inflicted end of an independent cultural development.‘

In 2024, it is not only in Germany that the question arises as to which of Kant's ideas can provide critical impetus today. This is no longer just about the accusation of racism made by Kant scholar Markus Willaschek and the monument-toppling debate that it initiated in Germany in 2020; in Europe and the Arab world, it is also about the extent to which state and non-state actors act in accordance with the ideals they claim to uphold. The question of the normative foundations of Western concepts of history and the extent to which they can be deconstructed by Kant would also be an exciting subject to consider in 2024 – including Kant texts that are much invoked in today’s atmosphere of war and censorship, like “On Perpetual Peace“ or „The Idea of a General History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose.“