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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Pelagius and Augustine: A Contemporary Take on an Ancient Controversy

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Tzvetan Todorov
CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Paris


Date:
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Time: 5:30PM-7:00PM
Location: McGuinn Hall 334 • Map and Parking Information

Co-sponsored by: The Consulate General of France, The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, The BC College of Arts and Sciences, The BC Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Abstract: In the beginning of the fifth century, two major theologians, Pelagius and Augustine, were engaged in a passionate debate. The former defended the idea of human liberty: man being capable of achieving the good by his own means. The latter responded that our knowledge of ourselves is always incomplete and that original sin prevents us from attaining alone the sovereign good. Only submission and divine grace can provide it. The debate has continued through the Enlightenment and it remains relevant for us.

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Tzvetan Todorov is a philosopher, theorist, and literary critic. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, he has lived in France since 1963. Since 1968, he has been a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, where he has been honorary director since 2005. He is author of numerous books, many of which have been translated into English, including The Poetics of Prose (1977), Introduction to Poetics (1981), The Conquest of America (1984), Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle (1984), Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps (1996), On Human Diversity (1993), Hope and Memory (2003), and Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism (2002), and The New World Disorder: Reflections of a European (2005). His most recent books include: The Limits of Art (2010) and The Totalitarian Experience (2011). He is member of many scholarly organizations and recipient of numerous prizes, including the Prix Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1991), the Spinoza (2004), and the Prince of Asturias (2008).

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