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

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.


Thomasius and Leibniz on "Should Heresy be a Crime?"
Christian Thomasius was one of the early enlightenment thinkers who had learned the lessons of Gottfried Arnold's Unpartheyische Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, applying them in a series of famous texts arguing for the removal of heresy from the Imperial legal statutes. Among these writings, his An haeresis sit crimen of 1697 attracted considerable hostile commentary from Lutheran theologians. Somewhat surprisingly it also drew criticism from Gottfried Leibniz, normally considered a leading light of the early Aufklärung, who opposed Thomasius's arguments as leading to the removal of religion and morality from civil life. In this paper I explore the grounds of Thomasius's and Leibniz's different responses to the heresy question, and raise some questions regarding the relation between opposition to heresy prosecutions and the notion of an enlightenment.

Biographical Sketch

Ian Hunter is an Australian Professorial Fellow working on early modern political, philosophical, and religious thought. His most recent monograph is Rival Enlightenments: Civil and Metaphysical Philosophy in Early Modern Germany ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001). In collaboration with David Saunders he has just edited a collection of papers, Natural Law and Civil Sovereignty: Moral Right and State Authority in Early Modern Political Thought ( Basingstoke : Palgrave/Macmillan, 2002). He and Professor Saunders have also completed a new edition of Andrew Tooke's first English translation of Samuel Pufendorf's de officio hominis et civis, The Whole Duty of Man (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). He is currently working on the theme of authoritarian liberalism, which will involve a book on the German early enlightenment intellectual Christian Thomasius and the first English translation of Thomasius's work on toleration, heresy and church-state relations.

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