The Einstein Forum

Susan Neiman is a moral philosopher with an interest in exploring the persistence of Enlightenment thought and reinterpreting past thinkers for contemporary contexts. She is the current Director of the Einstein Forum, having previously taught at Yale University and Tel Aviv University. The Wall Street Journal called her 2008 Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists “an argument for re-engaging with the moral vocabulary of the country.” Her 2002 work, Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, explains philosophy’s quest, touching on Kant, among others, as one perpetually in search of a perfect understanding of evil. Born in Atlanta, Neiman received her doctorate degree from Harvard University.

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TRANSCRIPT

Neiman:  The Einstein Forum is an international public think tank that was founded in 1993 for two reasons. Germany had just been reunified and there was a concern that a wave of nationalism might take place under reunification and there was also a concern from a different direction that the West would culturally overtake and colonize the East, which in many ways did happen. So some people in the intellectual political community of Berlin and Brandenburg, which is the state surrounding Berlin, decided to found an institute in the name of Einstein who had his summer home there. It’s actually the world’s only Einstein house that was built by Einstein and still co-designed by Einstein, and in the name of Einstein, who was not simply one of the great physicists of old times but a major public intellectual who was right on virtually all political issues of his time, to found an institute in his name to further intellectual exchange outside the university. Einstein had this marvelous house to which he didn’t escape. He simply invited the world to come to him. He invited some of the best thinkers and politicians and artists of his time to just hang out in an informal way and talk about everything and anything, and that’s what we do


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