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Call for Papers Internationial Workshop "Neo-Thomism in Action. Law and society reshaped by neo-scholastic philosophy, 1880-1960". Leuven, 8-10/10/2017

This workshop aims to provide an opportunity for an explicitly international audience of scholars to reflect on the societal impact of Neo-Thomism, especially in the domains of law and socio-economic thinking. It indeed starts from the hypothesis that Neo-Thomism above all had a social and apologetic vocation. Neo-Scholastic philosophy offered a holistic view of society, while shielding it against the secularizing forces of the modern world and striving towards a ‘shared’, ‘hybrid’ or ‘integrated modernity’. The Neo-Thomist project expressly called for greater involvement by lay people in the Church’s apologetic and pastoral strategies.

Through scholarly education, periodicals, study circles and other networks involving current and former students and other participants from very different societal domains, these neo-Scholastic institutions pervaded society, with a holistic philosophical framework that showed explicitly apologetic objectives. They offered intellectual breeding grounds for a new Catholic elite to grow. During the decades preceding World War I, the interwar period and even post-World War II, neo-Thomist learning centres acted as hubs for various Catholic networks permeating society as a whole, and cemented these connections within civil society, education, the civil service and judiciary, the worlds of labour and business and especially their interest groups.

The University of Leuven offers a fine example in this respect, with renowned legal scholars such as Victor Brants (1856-1917) and Léon de Lantsheere (1862-1912), and of course its Institute of Philosophy (HIW), founded in 1889 under the impetus of the later Archbishop and Cardinal, Désiré Mercier (1851-1926). These Belgian actors were of course merely one component of a vast international Thomist network that almost completely spanned the universal church with important hubs in places like Paris, Fribourg, Lille and of course Rome. The workshop aims to highlight the exchanges between these different Neo-Thomist centres and affiliated scholars, their societal networks and ideas. The role of religious institutions (Jesuits, Dominicans, and others) within this ‘Thomist international’ and their impact on its interaction with the legal and socio-economic domains of course deserves particular attention.

The social impact of neo-Thomism is a topic deserving a multifaceted and in-depth analysis, using a broad, international comparative perspective and combining the results of very different fields of historical research: history of science, church and religion, social and political history, etc. We cordially invite papers dealing with the topic from these and other academic perspectives.

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