IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE AND. WHEN JUDITH BUTLER AND I DEcided to cochair a conference called “Human Rights and the Humanities,” we aimed to create a connection between two apparently disparate fields and to leave its nature general enough to allow participants to probe different types of relations. I say “apparently” because connections between the humanities and human rights have existed historically and conceptually in the West through the mediation of humanism. Even though in Renaissance Italy umanista, the teacher of classical languages and literatures, was contrasted with legista, the teacher of law, humanist thought held that the reading, understanding, and critique of the bonae litterae, as Eugenio Garin has argued, could contribute to the renovation of the world, social life, and government and thus to human happiness. Not surprisingly, then, civic humanism was to merge with the ideals of freedom, equality, justice, tolerance, secularism, and cosmopolitanism in the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment. And since 1945 Enlightenment humanism has provided the philosophical underpinnings of human rights declarations, covenants, conventions, protocols, and charters.