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Author and Philosopher to Speak on the Founding Fathers and Secularism in Humanities Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

LAWRENCE — Matthew Stewart, philosopher and author, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Lied Center Pavilion as the first installation of the Hall Center for the Humanities' spring 2017 Humanities Lecture Series. “Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic” is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will occur after the lecture.

America’s founders intended to liberate us not just from one king but from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion. Drawing on the study of European philosophy, Stewart tracks the ancient, pagan and continental ideas from which America’s revolutionaries drew their inspiration. In the writings of Spinoza, Lucretius, and other great philosophers, Stewart recovers the true meanings of “Nature’s God,” “the pursuit of happiness” and the radical political theory with which the American experiment in self-government began.

Stewart is also the author of "The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World" (Norton, 2006) and "The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business" (Norton 2009).

He graduated from Princeton University in 1985 with a concentration in political philosophy and was awarded the Sachs Scholarship from Princeton for study at Oxford University, where he earned a D.Phil. in philosophy in 1988.

Stewart will also participate in an informal conversation session the next day. “A Conversation with Matthew Stewart” will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Audience members are invited to pose questions to Stewart and advance topics that may not have been touched upon in the previous night’s session.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin, and Sarah Vowell. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.

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