'Inexcusabiles' - The Debate on Salvation and the Virtues of the Pagans in the Early Modern Period (1595 - 1772)

8 April 2016 Organisers: Alberto Frigo (University of Reims) and Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute)

Speakers include: Michela Catto (FBK-ISR, Trento), Alberto Frigo (Reims), Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute), Douglas Hedley (Cambridge), Franck Lessay (Paris), John Marenbon (Cambridge), Giuliano Mori, Michael Moriarty (Cambridge), François Trémolières (CELLF and Paris Ouest Nanterre) and Han van Ruler (Rotterdam)

In his pioneering Le Problème du salut des infidèles (1912, 1934), Louis Capéran devoted a number of pages to the theological debate on pagan salvation and the limbo at the time of Fénelon and Rousseau. More recently, Michael Moriarty has produced a comprehensive study on this topic (Oxford 2011), highlighting the role played by the French moralists. Yet the multiple forms that the Medieval and Renaissance debate on the pagans took during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries remain to be addressed in full. This one-day conference intends to fill this gap by looking at the history of early modern controversies on the salvation and virtues of the pagans. The posthumous edition of Montaigne’s Essais (1595) and Johann August Eberhard’s Neue Apologie des Socrates (1772) are the chronological limits that define the context that will be examined in this conference. Its aim is to reassess the question of the moral status of unbelievers in the early modern period by analysing how some specific theological issues were reshaped at the time. Above all, the conference will explore how the theme of the virtues and the salvation of the pagans intersected the early modern reception of ancient philosophy. The modern revival of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Scepticism is well known and has been studied extensively. Little attention, however, has been devoted to the relationship between the ethical models inspired by the heroes and philosophers of antiquity and the ‘new philosophy’.


10.00 Doors open and registration

10.15 Welcome

Session 1: The Humanistic Background

Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute) - Between St Paul and Galen: How Juan Huarte de San Juan Responded to Inquisitorial Censorship

Alberto Frigo (University of Reims) - Montaigne’s Gods

11.30 Coffee

12.00 Session 2: The Theological Debate

Michael Moriarty (University of Cambridge) - ‘Would God Have Created the World in Order to Damn It?’; or is that a ‘Stupid Question’?

John Marenbon (University of Cambridge) - Pagan Salvation and Pagan Virtues – Collius and La Mothe Le Vayer

Han van Ruler (University of Rotteram) - The Scope of Grace: Early Modern Moral Philosophy and the Metaphysico-Moral Paradoxes of Divine Assistance

13.45 Lunch

14.45 Session 3: The Philosophers and the Unbelievers

Franck Lessay (University of Paris) - Hobbes’s Covenant, a Refuge for Heretics and Atheists?

Douglas Hedley (University of Cambridge) - Cudworth and Pagan Monotheism

François Tremolières (CELLF and Paris Ouest Nanterre) - Vertu des païens et salut des infidèles dans l’oeuvre de Fénelon

15.30 Coffee break

16.00 Session 4: The New Pagans

Giuliano Mori - Historia Gentilium (ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam): Jesuits, Missionaries, and the Seventeenth-Century Quest for a Universal History

Michela Catto (FBK-ISR, Trento) - Jesuits and Chinese Atheism: Back and Forth between Europe and China

17.30 Close and reception