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In recent years, the political landscape in western democracies has changed drastically. The surge of populist movements reflects a lack of capacity of traditional political formations to deal with the necessities of the population, especially the marginalized and underprivileged. While these needs are more and more pressing, the movements’ leadership all too often takes a conservative if not despotic turn, with a charismatic leader holding sway of large groups of the populace. How are we to understand the role of charisma within the political sphere? Is it a mere instrument of power or can itself be the basis for the construction of dialogue and to foster the life of the political community? Can Buber’s reflections around theocracy and theopolitics lead us to problematise the notion of charisma and to cast new light on the nature and limits of political agency? 

Speaker: Federico Filauri (Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London)

Reading list for this seminar:

Buber, Kingship of God, pp. 136-162 (spec. 136-141)
Buber, I and Thou, 43-46 

Both inside and outside of the academy we witness the continued attempts of bringing people and disciplines, scholars and themes 'in dialogue' with each other. But how are we to understand dialogue in digital terms, in times of war and after a global pandemic? Is it possible to establish a dialogical relation despite or even through conflict? What can a praxis of dialogue look like that would be able to help us live through the besetting realities of our time? In this seminar we will explore answers to these questions, inspired by Martin Buber’s dialogical philosophy, but welcoming other authors and perspectives to address these issues. Taking a cue from last year’s reflections on Buber’s philosophy of communication, this year we will approach its main tenet – the mutual relation of trust and individual recognition at the core of dialogue – from the angles of a variety of different approaches and in the light of the pressing issues of the contemporary moment.  

This seminar series is hosted in collaboration with The Global Lehrhaus, an international platform for education and reflection on issues of common concern, initiated in 2020 by Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jessica Brown and inspired by the Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus (Free House of Jewish Learning), a centre for continuing education that used to be directed by Franz Rosenzweig, and after him by Martin Buber. 

Convenors: Johan Siebers (Bloch Centre/Middlesex University) and Federico Filauri (IMLR)

Seminars will be held online, via Zoom. Advance online registration essential.

Information about other seminars in the series

Image: Camille Pissarro, 'Conversation' (1881) [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]