Lecture Tangier Global Forum Lecture Series
Moderation often seems less a political position than a personal disposition — the absence, and not the presence of strongly held positions. In a sense, it is the conceptual equivalent of a plaid sweater, accepted by all yet admired by few. But, as the lives and writings of French moralists from Michel de Montaigne to Albert Camus make clear, true moderation is very different and infinitely more demanding. There is no better time than now, in an age where voices of moderation, both in the halls of power and in the groves of academe, seem to have lost their conviction while the extremes are full of passionate intensity, to invoke and investigate the work of writers who sacrificed so much on behalf of the ideal of measure.
Robert Zaretsky is a faculty member of the Honors College, University of Houston. He has written several books, most recently A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning (Harvard, 2013) and Boswell’s Enlightenment (Harvard, 2015), and is now writing a book on the friendship between Catherine the Great of Russia and the French philosopher Denis Diderot. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Policy, Times Higher Education, and Le Monde Diplomatique. He is also a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Jewish Daily Forward.