Lectures in Intellectual History
Recordings from the popular public lecture series featuring new work on all aspects of intellectual history. Hosted by the Institute of Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews.
info_outline David Armitage - The Dark Side of Enlightened Cosmopolitanism: Civilisation and Civil War 03/14/2018
David Armitage - The Dark Side of Enlightened Cosmopolitanism: Civilisation and Civil War Modern cosmopolitanism traces its routes back to the Enlightenment. In its individual and collectivist strains, it has become programatically pacifist by virtue of many of its central defining features. Under such a regime of cosmopolitanism, one might imagine the Kantian goal of perpetual peace. Kant’s conception of cosmopolitanism was progressive and developmental, but also fundamentally conflicted. Its motor was that famous unsocial sociability, which compelled humans to seek peace even as they experienced destructive forms of competition. The connection between cosmopolitanism on one hand and peace on the other, therefore, is neither essential or natural; it is contingent and accidental despite the strong connection between modern contemporary cosmopolitanism and peace. Only recently have scholars acknowledged that cosmopolitanism might indeed have something to say about war, or that war might shed light on its limits and possibilities. Is contemporary cosmopolitanism theoretically robust enough to face the challenges of unconventional warfare in the 21st century? And if cosmopolitanism defines transnational borders as morally arbitrary, what can it tell us about conflicts that occur within such borders, that is to say about civil war? In this lecture, David Armitage pursues these and other important questions.
info_outline Richard Whatmore - Scotland, Europe and the End of Enlightenment 11/22/2017
Richard Whatmore - Scotland, Europe and the End of Enlightenment Why did so many European luminaries who had lived through the turmoil of the French Revolution turn to Scotland as a state that might represent a model for the future of the world? In this Inaugural Lecture, Professor Richard Whatmore explains why so many figures at the end of the eighteenth century felt that the Enlightenment had failed, and that a new beginning was necessary in politics, economics, religion and culture. Europe had been torn apart by war and revolution; Scotland appeared to offer grounds for optimism, being characterised by economic development, religious peace and a distinctive sense of identity.
info_outline Janet Coleman - Reflections on the Self Itself: in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and what happened next? 11/06/2017
Janet Coleman - Reflections on the Self Itself: in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and what happened next? Are people’s characters and the values that shape them thought to be stable in terms of what we may judge to be virtuous or vicious performances across time and place? If this was the case, should we today not be able to emulate those of the past in their best practices? In this lecture, Janet Coleman charts a journey, beginning with Aristotle and ending with Hobbes, that deals with what has been called an anthropological prelinguistic set of conditions of experiences that were held by representative premoderns to be the ways in which the self itself comes to acknowledge of suitable human action and seeks to conform to it.
info_outline Lynette Mitchell - Monarchs in democracy 10/17/2017
Lynette Mitchell - Monarchs in democracy The hallmark of Athenian democracy was equality. From at least the beginning of the 5th century, Athens was a place where there was equality in political rights. By the mid-5th century, the Athenian assembly had sovereignty in matters of decision making. The practical politics of Athens, however, required political leaders: able, often wealthy men, well-practised in rhetoric, who arose out of the elite political think tanks and who guided the decision making in the assembly. At an ideological level, democracy found this tension difficult to resolve. In tracing the early development of Athenian democratic thinking in this paper, Lynette Mitchell argues that there also emerged a way of projecting good and ideal kings onto the ancient history of democratic Athens, and that this positive theorisation of kingship was important to several thinkers for the space it gave to political leadership.
info_outline Karl Marx and the Emergence of Social Democracy 09/19/2017
Karl Marx and the Emergence of Social Democracy The years between 1864 and 1867 were among the most fulfilling of Marx’s life. Not only were these the years in which he wrote up Capital, it was also the period in which he became an active and influential participant in the International Workingmen’s Association, founded in London in 1864. Almost by chance, it fell to Marx to compose the inaugural address of the Association and formulate its rules. In this lecture, Gareth Stedman Jones argues that in writing the address, Marx made his greatest and most permanent contribution to the International: he had formulated the new social democratic language of the 1860s, both in the definition of the political and social end of the association, and in a global diagnosis of the worker’s condition.
info_outline Susan Manly - Maria Edgeworth as political thinker: government, rebellion and punishment 04/25/2017
Susan Manly - Maria Edgeworth as political thinker: government, rebellion and punishment The issue of slavery is a constant in Maria Edgeworth's thinking about questions of government, from the beginning of her writing career until the 1820s and 30s. In this paper, Susan Manly discusses the multiple elements to this seam of thinking, and in particular examines the importance of the reformist thinker Jeremy Bentham and his French interlocutor Étienne Dumont.
info_outline Sophie Page - Cosmology and Ritual Magic in the Late Middle Ages 04/18/2017
Sophie Page - Cosmology and Ritual Magic in the Late Middle Ages The importance of general celestial influences on the Earth in Aristotle's cosmological model enabled the art of astrology to find a large degree of acceptance in intellectual circles by the mid-twelfth century, even if throughout the late Middle Ages it continued to be haunted by the debate about determinism. Astrology - or the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies in order to make predictions about human personalities, dispositions, and public and personal events - included the belief that the planets could incline men to good and evil, and negatively influence the course of events. In this paper, Sophie Page examines how the question of whether or how demons could provoke, manipulate or make use of these celestial influences was of particular concern to three different types of medieval author: theologians explaining the structure and operations of the cosmos, authors of literary or popular scientific texts discussing the origins of evil in the world, and writers of texts on astrology and magic, whose main goal was to identify networks of power in the cosmos which could be manipulated by humans.
info_outline Caroline Humfress - Natural law and casuistic reasoning in Roman jurisprudence 04/11/2017
Caroline Humfress - Natural law and casuistic reasoning in Roman jurisprudence There is no evidence for any Roman jurist writing a treatise entitled On Natural Law, or similar. Ius naturale had a very limited place in Roman jurisprudence, and when Roman jurists want to reason about law, they pretty much always began from the standpoint of the Roman ius civile and worked outwards. There is a fundamental difference between this concentric way of reasoning about natural law, and the way in which the medieval natural lawyers influenced by Thomas Aquinas, as well as later 17th and 18th century thinkers, reason about it. In this lecture, Caroline Humfress examines this tension.
info_outline Phil Connell - Wordsworth’s “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty” (1802-3) and the British Revolutionary Past 04/04/2017
Phil Connell - Wordsworth’s “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty” (1802-3) and the British Revolutionary Past William Wordworth's Sonnets Dedicated To Liberty are dominated by his personal and political connections with France, and his changing attitudes to Britain's participation in the counter-Revolutionary war effort. Wordsworth's experiments with the sonnet form in this period were clearly sustained, intensive and closely engaged with affairs of state. However, a number of the sonnets are also keenly responsive to 17th-century British history in ways that raise distinct challenges to our sense of Wordworth's shifting political attitudes. Are the sonnets continuous with Wordsworth's early radicalism? Or are the poems better understood as a redirection of political and imaginative energies under the pressure of the Napoleonic threat towards the conservative defence of the nation and tradition? In this lecture, Phil Connell considers these and other questions.
info_outline Rory Cox - Just War Doctrine in Ancient Egypt 03/28/2017
Rory Cox - Just War Doctrine in Ancient Egypt In the literature of the Just War tradition there is an overdrawn association between the Just War tradition and Christian political theology. This produces a misconception that Just War is an exclusively Christian idea, and also that is an exclusively Western idea as well. In this lecture, Rory Cox argues that ideas analogous to Just War developed in Ancient Egypt, more than 2,000 years prior to the advent of Christianity and beyond the traditional boundaries of the West.
info_outline David D’Avray - How to do intellectual history 03/07/2017
David D’Avray - How to do intellectual history How can you combine the so-called Cambridge School of intellectual history, which tends to shrink the focus to a particular period and particular context, with a longue durée approach which follows through themes over many centuries? In this lecture, David D’Avray attempts to resolve this argument with the help of 20th century German philosophers Niklas Luhmann and Hans-Georg Gadamer.
info_outline Tom Jones - George Berkeley in Livorno: Missionary Anglicanism and Commerce 02/07/2017
Tom Jones - George Berkeley in Livorno: Missionary Anglicanism and Commerce Whilst George Berkeley's visit to Livorno in 1714 may seem relatively unremarkable at first look, the content of the sermons he preached there appear significant to the attitudes and behaviours of his later life. Chief among these is Berkeley's project to establish a university or college on Bermuda, and his interest in economic reform, particularly in Ireland in the 1730s. In this paper, Tom Jones identifies the early association of missionary Anglicanism and commerce as pivotal to our understanding of the history of Berkeley's later thought.
info_outline Katrina Forrester - The Origins of Contemporary Liberal Theory Revisited 01/23/2017
Katrina Forrester - The Origins of Contemporary Liberal Theory Revisited After the Second World War, political philosophy was dead. This changed in 1971 when John Rawls published his Theory of Justice, reviving philosophy and injecting it with normative foundations. Whilst this view has subsequently been subjected to several corrective arguments, they all implicitly confirm the view that Rawls transformed political philosophy. And they also infer that Anglo-American political philosophy has been relatively static ever since. A second view, held by those interested in the broader history of the 20th century and the history of ideology, tells a by now very familiar story about post-war welfarist ideology and its crisis in the 1970s. On this view, welfarists and collectivists were overthrown by various forms of liberalism. How does the view of the 17970s as this great period of re-invention in philosophy correspond to that vision of the decade as a moment of political crisis? How, if the dominance of central liberalism now seems over, should we rethink its recent history as told in the first? In this lecture, Katrina Forrester explores these competing perspectives.
info_outline Michael Sonenscher - Hobbes, Rousseau and Democratic Politics 11/29/2016
Michael Sonenscher - Hobbes, Rousseau and Democratic Politics The political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is typically identified with two aspects of that of Thomas Hobbes. The first is the subject of sociability, and the similarities in their treatments of the natural state. The second is the civil state, and their joint hostility to any kind of independent religious organisation and, more broadly, any kind of factional grouping. In 1765, Rousseau’s entry on Political Economy in Diderot’s Encyclopédie was published in Geneva as a pamphlet entitled ‘The Citizen’. This title echoed Hobbes’ De Cive, and in this lecture, Michael Sonenscher discusses whether the similarity in titles indicates a broader similarity in thought.
info_outline Steve Rigby - Marxism and the Middle Ages 11/15/2016
Steve Rigby - Marxism and the Middle Ages Marxist theory has had a massive influence on medieval economic and social history. Lots of historians, even those who are not Marxist in their politics, have in a sense been historical materialist in their analyses. Marx and Engels themselves, meanwhile, were very interested in the middle ages, in part because of its importance in understanding the transition from feudalism to capitalism. In this paper, Steve Rigby examines seven key Marxist claims that were illustrated by reference to medieval history.
info_outline Kleanthis Mantzouranis - Aristotle on the Ethics of Wealth 11/01/2016
Kleanthis Mantzouranis - Aristotle on the Ethics of Wealth Aristotle’s conception of wealth begins with the distinction he makes between two spheres of wealth: its possession (acquisition and keeping), and its use (giving and spending). In this paper, Kleanthis Mantzouranis explores the locations in which Aristotle discusses these two spheres in his corpus, namely in the first book of the Politics, which has been of interest to economists and economic historians, and in the fourth volume of the Nicomachean Ethics, which has been of interest to ethical philosophers.
info_outline Milos Vec - The 'Family of Nations': A rhetorical figure and its ideology 10/10/2016
Milos Vec - The 'Family of Nations': A rhetorical figure and its ideology The best known example in the history of international law might be the so-called domestic analogy. In natural law thinking, the rights and duties of individuals were transferred to the rights and duties behind states. But metaphors are more than analogies. If there is a family, who are the parents, and who are the children? And are the parents entitled to educate the children and, sometimes, even punish them? In this lecture, Milos Vec reconstructs critically the career and the function of the phrase the 'family of nations', and asks what implications such a metaphor has beyond concrete political arguments.
info_outline Aaron Garrett - Moral Knowledge and the Decline of the Grotian Programme 09/27/2016
Aaron Garrett - Moral Knowledge and the Decline of the Grotian Programme In the 17th and early 18th centuries in Britain, there were no clear divisions between what we now call moral epistemology, moral metaphysics, and normative moral theory. In this talk, Aaron Garrett argues that Francis Hutcheson, in refuting the work of Mandeville, attempted to make good on this long tradition of lumping these ideas together, and that this variant of a demonstrative moral science is both associated with the natural law tradition following from Grotius, and supportive of the ancient moralists.
info_outline Anthony Black - How to Plan a Global History of Political Thought 09/20/2016
Anthony Black - How to Plan a Global History of Political Thought What can we learn from the past, and from different traditions as they exist in the world? And how can such learning help us tackle the problems of today? In this lecture, Anthony Black asks whether, and to what extent, the histories of the West and the East are different, but complementary. Could it be that, in today's increasingly globalised (meaning Westernised) world, the West and East need each other? At a time of stress and short-sightedness, we would do well to remind ourselves of the resources and achievements of the human mind.
info_outline Rachel Hammersley - The Republican Theorist as Royal Servant: James Harrington's Civil War 09/13/2016
Rachel Hammersley - The Republican Theorist as Royal Servant: James Harrington's Civil War It is generally accepted that the 17th century republican thinker James Harrington, author of The Commonwealth of Oceania, played very little part in the English civil wars of the 1640s. The one detail that is known about Harrington is that he was appointed gentleman of the bedchamber to the captured Charles I. Given the accounts of the positive relations between Harrington and the King, how is it that Harrington came to be one of the most prominent thinkers on republicanism?
info_outline Eric Nelson - Barons' Wars, under other names: Magna Carta, Royalism, and the American Founding 09/13/2016
Eric Nelson - Barons' Wars, under other names: Magna Carta, Royalism, and the American Founding How are we to understand the political thought of the American Revolution? One view - which is very much familiar - was that the patriots who made the Revolution were fundamentally radical Whigs whose great preoccupation was the terror of crown power and executive corruption. A rather different interpretation states that for many of the most important patriots this view was the wrong way round, and that they were rebels in favour of royal power, who wanted more monarchy rather than less, as their complaint was with the tyrannical Parliament. In this lecture, Eric Nelson assesses this second view, and shows that by the early 1770s appeals to the Whig ancient constitution had become quite rare in patriot writing, and by the end of the decade many patriots had assumed a completely different understanding of the feudal past, one pioneered by royalist historians of the 17th century, and then adopted by Scottish historians of the 18th century.
info_outline Quentin Skinner - A genealogy of liberty 05/04/2016
Quentin Skinner - A genealogy of liberty Among contemporary political theorists in the West, the idea of individual liberty is generally defined in negative terms as absence of interference. In this lecture, Quentin Skinner argues that if the concept is instead approached genealogically, this orthodoxy begins to appear in need of qualification and perhaps abandonment. Because the concept of interference is such a complex one, there has been much dispute even within the liberal tradition about the conditions under which it may be legitimate to claim that freedom has been infringed. Skinner is chiefly concerned, however, with the many political theorists who have wished to challenge the core liberal assumption that freedom is best understood as absence of interference. Some doubt whether freedom is best defined as an absence at all, and instead attempt to connect the idea with specific patterns of moral behaviour. Other critics, meanwhile, agree that the presence of freedom is best understood as the absence of something, while arguing that freedom fundamentally consists in the absence not of acts of interference but rather of broader conditions of arbitrary domination and dependence.
info_outline Laszlo Kontler - The Enlightenment Narrative in the Age of Liberal Reform: William Robertson in Hungary 04/05/2016
Laszlo Kontler - The Enlightenment Narrative in the Age of Liberal Reform: William Robertson in Hungary Was there a family resemblance between the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland and the constitutional compromise which followed the Hungarian rebellion led by Ferenc Rakoczi II against the Habsburgs between 1703 and 1711? In both cases, the settlement took into account the resilience as well as the vulnerability of the junior partner and in the longer run offered it the possibility of participating in a process of empire building and civilization. But such a union did not ensue in the Hungarian case, and a genuine age of improvement had not set in until the two decades preceding the revolution of 1848, whose defeat inaugurated yet another period of national frustration. In this lecture, Laszlo Kontler accounts for the role of the long Enlightenment in the age of reform in Hungary in the 1830s and 40s, and in particular argues that William Robertson's view of progress was tailor made to the preferences of the contemporary Hungarian public and intellectual science.
info_outline Mark Elliott - The contribution of the history of exegesis to the history of ideas 03/08/2016
Mark Elliott - The contribution of the history of exegesis to the history of ideas As Protestantism entered the modern world its biblical spirituality, on the one hand, inspired a puritan mission to restore the world to its paradisal integrity through trade and science, and yet on the other hand promoted an increasingly adversarial stance towards the world of politics and institutional religion. Either way, the biblical text appeared to be historical narrative with one literal sense, which mediated the divine action of a time gone by, so as to demand obedient correspondent action from God's present day covenanted partners, free from the bounds of socio-political structure as much as they could be. How did the interpretation of the Bible change in the course of the seventeenth century? How was it used to promote notions of political authority? And what relevance does this history of exegesis have for modern-day intellectual history scholarship? In this paper, Mark Elliott answers these and other questions.
info_outline Béla Kapossy - Liberty before neo-Roman republicanism: Haller’s restoration of political science 02/02/2016
Béla Kapossy - Liberty before neo-Roman republicanism: Haller’s restoration of political science
info_outline Dimitris Kastritsis - The Alexander Romance and the Birth of the Ottoman Empire 01/26/2016
Dimitris Kastritsis - The Alexander Romance and the Birth of the Ottoman Empire During the period that saw the creation of the classical Ottoman Empire, the Alexander of pseudo-Callisthenes functioned as a familiar if contested cultural currency. Across the boundaries of Christianity and Islam, legends about the ancient conqueror took on new relevance in light of contemporary political aspirations, which were closely intertwined with religious and social turmoil, and the ensuing eschatological expectations. In this paper, Dimitris Kastritsis examines the fate of the Alexander Romance, both Greek and Islamic, in the period that saw the Ottoman state grow in to a global empire.
info_outline Christian Maurer - The Forgotten Range of Defences of Sociability: Hutcheson and Campbell on Hobbes 12/02/2015
Christian Maurer - The Forgotten Range of Defences of Sociability: Hutcheson and Campbell on Hobbes Most philosophers think that, as a matter of fact, most human beings live in some sort of society, but what brings human beings to live in society rather than in solitude? Do we need to invoke some sort of natural sociability to explain this fact? In De Cive, Thomas Hobbes argued that man was not a creature born fit for society, but rather made fit for society by education. But what then are the causes for us coming together? And why are many accounts of sociability so difficult to make sense of? In this lecture, Christian Maurer investigates responses to Hobbes made by two Scottish moral philosophers: the rather well-known Frances Hutcheson, and the relatively unknown Archibald Campbell.
info_outline Jane Judge - Ce que nous allons devenir. Belgian national identity in eighteenth-century revolution 11/10/2015
Jane Judge - Ce que nous allons devenir. Belgian national identity in eighteenth-century revolution In 1787 Joseph II decreed a series of administrative reforms for his Belgian provinces, essentially undoing their independence. Thus began a resistance, mounted by the estates, guilds and corporations, and then a revolution. In June 1789, Joseph had declared the Joyeuse Entrée annulled, creating a whole new branch of revolutionaries. In this lecture, Jane Judge documents the different strands of both conservative and democratic revolutionary thought which emerged in the Belgian provinces at this time, and argues that this is the first instance of people thinking of themselves as Belgian in what is modern day Belgium.
info_outline John Dunn - Why We Need a Global History of Political Thought 11/04/2015
John Dunn - Why We Need a Global History of Political Thought Political thinking anywhere in the world today, as always, is irretrievably contextual. It takes its coordinates from the setting in which it finds itself. Today that setting is ever more, and unmistakably global. Whilst human populations have never been fully insulated from each other in our epoch, all of them have for some time been undergoing a process of at best, semi-voluntary de-insulation which still appears to be accelerating. However clumsily or dishonestly it may do so, contemporary political reflection has no option but to register that de-insulation as best it can and try to judge what it means. In this lecture, John Dunn argues that we now face a pressing need for a global history of political thought, and that our need is increasingly urgent and not mainly academic, and that we must recognise it promptly and frankly and set ourselves vigorously to learn how to satisfy it better.
info_outline Ian Hunter - The History of Dialectical History: The Case of International Law 10/30/2015
Ian Hunter - The History of Dialectical History: The Case of International Law There are presently two main ways of writing the history of international law, one using the methods of dialectical philosophical history, and the other approach using the methods of contextual history and legal humanism. The central difference between these historiographies is that dialectical history treat norms as formal or ideal entities that govern the unfolding of history through their dialectical interaction with facts. Whereas contextual histories view the norms of international law as contigent historical facts, that is as products of particular treaty regimes, and hence incapable of orientating history towards any particular goal, such as a cosmopolitan legal community. In this lecture, Professor Hunter clarifies this relation by sketching an outline of the history of the dialectical history of international law, beginning with a brief discussion of the most eloquent and erudite of the modern dialectical historians, Martti Koskenniemi, before offering an account of the first emergence of dialectical histories of international law in 1840s Germany.