History, International law, International relations, Philosophy, Political science, Public policy, Religious studies

In co-operation with the Department of Political Science, Duke University, USA, and the Institute of Political Science, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany and supported by the Linda Noe Laine Foundation and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 


Course date

15 July - 26 July, 2013
22 February, 2013
The application process is closed; no more applications will be reviewed.
Course Director(s): 

Matthias Riedl

Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Hans-Jörg Sigwart

Institute of Political Science, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Course Faculty: 

Michael A. Gillespie

Department of Political Science, Duke University, Durham, USA

Alison McQueen

Department of Political Science, Stanford University, USA

Mark Philp

Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, UK

Alexander Astrov

Department of International Relations and European Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Harvey C. Mansfield

Government Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

Matt Sleat

Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, UK

Hendrik Hansen

Department of Comparative Government and International Law, Andrassy University, Budapest, Hungary

The course will examine the relationship between the religion and political realism as a genuine constellation within Western political thought and philosophy. Focusing on most recent international debates as well as on historical perspectives, the course will particularly explore the connections of religious ideas with typically realist positions, such as the autonomy of politics, the emphasis on power and political leadership, the necessity to restrain human desires and passions, the disbelief in human perfectibility and the idea of historical progress, the observance of the limits of politics. This involves, on the one hand, the question of the religious origins of realism, for instance in the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, and, on the other hand, the question of the specifically "secular" or even anti-religious character of realist thought.

Accordingly, the course will deal with religious and non-religious justifications of (state) power and authority as well as with the realist critique of religiously inspired political enthusiasm and utopianism. Against this background, the general realist critique of the political implications of Christianity, the question of the significance of neo-pagan references both within the history as well as within most recent reformulations of Western political realism will be discussed.