Cătălin Avramescu

Cătălin Avramescu studied Philosophy at the University of Bucharest, where he received his Ph.D. in 1998 with a dissertation on finitude and disorder in the theory of social contract from Hobbes to Rousseau.

Dr. Avramescu is a Reader in the Department of Political Science of the University of Bucharest and a docent of the University of Helsinki. He teaches classes in Political Theory and in the History of Political Ideas, with a focus on the 17th and 18th centuries. He was a Mellon fellow at Herzog August Bibliothek, a Lise Meitner fellow at Vienna University and a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Ferrara.

Other reasearch fellowships were at the New Europe College (Bucharest) and Clark Library (UCLA). He translated in Romanian a number of key texts in the history of political thought, e.g. Rousseau’s “Social Contract” and Hobbes’ “Elements of Law”.

From 2011 to 2016, Dr. Avramescu served as the Ambassador of Romania to Finland and Estonia. He published "An Intellectual History of Cannibalism" (Princeton University Press, 2009), on the development and the decline of modern natural law theories.

Research Project: Theories of Peace in Modern Natural Law

His PIASt research project attampts to develop a first-ever systematic history of the ideas on peace in the framework of jusnaturalism, from Grotius to Kant. The dominant interpretation in current specialist literature emphasises the role of conflict between individuals and/or states. The model of this interaction is that of the Hobbesian state of nature understood as a state of war. I challenge this interpretation through an analysis of the place of arguments regarding the necessity and the possibility of peace in the intellectual history of the early modern age and of the Enlightenment.

Professor Avramescu takes as a starting point the theory of peace in De jure belli ac pacis (1625) to show how the concept of peace in Grotius is to be understood on the background of a teleology, where the distinction between public and private ends is essential. Hobbes connects the ideas of peace, reason and natural rights, while Pufendorf, Locke and Rousseau are relevant here mainly from the point of view of their conceptions of order and human sociability.

The main result of the project will be a volume on the theories of federalism, natural law and the pursuit of peace. The working title of the book is Perpetual Peace. The Science of Confederation in the Age of Enlightenment.

Dates of stay: 01 March 2018 - 31 July 2018