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Indiana University Bloomington

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Professor Aurelian Craiutu

The University of Amsterdam will organize on November 22 a one-day international conference to discuss political moderation which will feature Professor Craiutu’s book A Virtue for Courageous Minds (Princeton UP, 2012). In an increasingly polarized world the topic of moderation is attracting both scholarly as well as a broader public attention. This conference aims to explore the variety of attempts in modern European history to find a third way between ideological extremes, from the Juste Milieu between old order and new liberty of the Restauration era, via the Third Way between capitalism and socialism (both in the immediate postwar era and in the Blairite 1990s), to the current calls for a moderate Islam as a response to both fundamentalist and anti-Islamic extremism.

This quest for a third way is inspired by Aurelian Craiutu, who in his A virtue for courageous minds. Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830 (2012) argues that moderation is an independent intellectual tradition which can be traced back to the eighteenth century, if not to classical and biblical Antiquity. Starting from Craiutu’s seminal interpretation, this seminar explores whether moderation is merely a compromise between two sides or an independent ideological position. How was moderation and extremism conceptualized in different situations and in different periods? How did the idea of a ‘third way’ as well as its opposites like ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalism’ function rhetorically? And what was the interaction between ideology and political practices?

In answering these topics the conference aims to cover the full extent of European history and to put contemporary attempts to forge a middle ground in a long-term historical perspective. What is the relation between the older classical notion of a ‘via media’, the early modern conception of a ‘politique’ way out of religious controversy, the ‘Juste milieu’ of the Restauration, and the Third Way of the contemporary period? Is moderation only the ad hoc result of specific circumstances or does a veritable European tradition of moderation exist?

Key note: Aurelian Craiutu
Session 1:  from the via media to the juste milieu: the middle of the road as an intellectual tradition
Session 2: Third Ways through the twentieth century
Session 3 The call for moderation in contemporary society

On November 23, Professor Craiutu will give a public lecture on the relevance of moderation in the 21st century at SPUI 25, a vibrant new academic cultural center in Amsterdam:

Professor Craiutu will also speak on political moderation at the University of Leiden (November 21) and give the concluding lecture at a conference on nineteenth-century liberalism at the University of Groningen (November 24):