Archives of professors Leopold Flam and Hubert Dethier return to VUB

Archives of professors Leopold Flam and Hubert Dethier return to VUB

VUB welcomes return of legacy of well-known liberal Flemish philosophers

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is pleased to accept the archives of Leopold Flam and Hubert Dethier. The two liberal philosophers played a major role in the intellectual discourse of their time and were affiliated with VUB as professors for many years. They are two iconic thinkers in the university’s history.

CAVA, VUB’s centre for academic and liberal archives, received the files of Professors Flam and Dethier from the collection of the AMVB, the Archive and Museum for the Flemish Living in Brussels. The transfer took place with the consent of the family and the donors. As a result, the professors’ archives will return to VUB and the existing archive files can be completed. The two institutions have previously worked together on these archives.

Frank Scheelings, coordinator of CAVA: “It is wonderful when professors’ archives that have strayed are returned to the university. And when it concerns the archives of two well-known liberal Flemish philosophers, the heart of the VUB community lights up.”

The AMVB transferred the archives in order to limit its collections and make room for important new Dutch-language cultural archives from Brussels.

Leopold Flam: “Every thought is an attempt to bring a little order to the chaos that constantly threatens us.”

Leopold Flam (1912-1995)

Leopold Flam obtained his licentiate degree in history and worked as a secondary school teacher at the atheneum of Deurne before the outbreak of World War II. During the war, in 1944, he was arrested and deported to a concentration camp. He later returned to work as a teacher and taught philosophy at the Emile Vandervelde institute. He obtained a doctorate in history in 1952 and a few years later became an examiner of history in secondary education. He advocated greater study of recent history in school. In 1960 he became professor at ULB and later VUB. From 1960 to 1980 he was part of a generation of leading philosophers in Belgium.

Hubert Dethier (1933-2018)

Hubert Dethier was born in Lembeek (Halle). After studying philology and philosophy, he was an assistant to the ULB historian-philologist François Masai and to Leopold Flam. In 1967, under Flam’s supervision, he obtained his doctorate with a thesis on the Italian humanist Pietro Pomponazzi. Two years later Dethier himself became a professor at VUB, teaching no fewer than 12 courses, mainly in philosophy and communication sciences. In addition, he taught at the Gemeentelijke Universiteit van Amsterdam and was involved in the establishment of the new discipline of moral science. In 1972, Flam and Dethier created the Centre for the Study of the Enlightenment, which, after his retirement, became the current Centre for Ethics and Humanism. He won the Vrijzinnig Humanisme (Liberal Humanism) Prize in 1997.

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Sicco Wittermans Spokesperson Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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