The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

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Christian Thomasius (1655–1728) was a tireless campaigner against the political enforcement of religion in the early modern confessional state. In a whole series of combative disputations - against heresy and witchcraft prosecutions, and in favour of religious toleration - Thomasius battled to lay the intellectual groundwork for the separation of church and state and the juridical basis for pluralistic societies. In this 2007 text, Ian Hunter departs from the usual view of Thomasius as a natural law moral philosopher. In addition to investigating his anti-scholastic cultural politics, Hunter discusses Thomasius' work in public and church law, particularly his disputations arguing for the toleration of heretics, providing a revealing comparison with Locke's arguments on the same topic. If Locke sought to base toleration in the subjective rights protecting Christian citizens against an intolerant state, Thomasius grounded it in the state's duty to impose toleration as an obligation on intolerant citizens.


“Ian Hunter’s volume makes a compelling case for reading Thomasius in a very different way, one that better relates his work to the major historical forces of the age and that moves him much closer to the central concerns of modern historians… [This book] illuminated for me the mutual implication of religion, university, and state to which the literature often alludes. Hunter made the debates of the time intelligible, and he advanced what I found to be an original and convincing interpretation of Thomasius’ work.” -Larry Frohman, State University of New York, Stony Brook, German Studies Review

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