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 Lucia Rubinelli - Sovereignty and Constituent Power in Weimar Germany” 02/13/2020
Lucia Rubinelli - Sovereignty and Constituent Power in Weimar Germany” Dr Lucia Rubinelli (Cambridge) delivered the 18th István Hont Memorial Lecture on October 29 2019 at the University of St Andrews "This paper is the third chapter of a book manuscript, titled Constituent power: A history. The book mainly focuses on how Sieyes’ first theorisation of pouvoir constituant has been used and misused by subsequent theorists, including Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. In this chapter, I argue that Schmitt theorised constituent power as the democratic embodiment of sovereignty. Schmitt’s collapse of constituent power and sovereignty is well known, but I suggest that he did not simply take the two ideas to be interchangeable. Rather, he aimed to introduce a meaning for popular power that could be consistent with his definition of sovereignty as the power to decide on the exception. This was not provided by ideas of national and parliamentary sovereignty. The latter gave birth to liberal parliamentarianism, which he accused of dissolving the essence of sovereignty; the former encouraged direct and local democracy, which prevented the prompt expression of the sovereign will. By contrast, Schmitt found in Sieyes’ idea of constituent power a way to associate the extra-ordinary character of his account of sovereignty to the democratic principle of popular power. He thus presented constituent power as the meaning of sovereignty in democratic states. On his interpretation of Sieyes’ theory, constituent power belonged to the nation but, to be exercised, needed to be represented by a unitary figure, approved through plebiscites, and able to embody the unity of the nation acting as a unitary instance of decision: the sovereign dictator. The result is a complete reversal of Sieyes’ theory."
info_outline James Poskett - Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815-1920 02/06/2020
James Poskett - Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815-1920 Dr James Poskett (Warwick) delivered this lecture on October 15th 2019 at the University of St Andrews. Phrenology was the most popular mental science of the Victorian age. From American senators to Indian social reformers, this new mental science found supporters around the globe. James’s new book, Materials of the Mind, tells the story of how phrenology changed the world—and how the world changed phrenology. It is a story of skulls from the Arctic, plaster casts from Haiti, books from Bengal, and letters from the Pacific. It shows how the circulation of material culture underpinned the emergence of a new materialist philosophy of the mind, while also demonstrating how a global approach to history can help us reassess issues such as race, technology, and politics today.
info_outline Emma Hunter - Africa and the Global History of Liberalism 01/30/2020
Emma Hunter - Africa and the Global History of Liberalism Dr Emma Hunter (Edinburgh) delivered this lecture at the University of St Andrews on September 24, 2019.
info_outline Silvia Sebastiani - The Boundaries of Humanity in the Enlightenment: Orangutans, Slaves and Global Markets. 01/23/2020
Silvia Sebastiani - The Boundaries of Humanity in the Enlightenment: Orangutans, Slaves and Global Markets. Dr Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS) delivered the 10th James H. Burnes Memorial Lecture on April 23, 2019 at the Institute of Intellectual History.
info_outline Richard Whatmore - The End of Enlightenment: A synopsis of the 2019 Carlyle Lectures 12/19/2019
Richard Whatmore - The End of Enlightenment: A synopsis of the 2019 Carlyle Lectures Richard Whatmore (St Andrews) delivered this talk at the University of St Andrews on April 3, 2019. The talk was based on the Carlyle Lectures, which Professor Whatmore gave at the University of Oxford in the spring semester of 2019.
info_outline Iain McDaniel - Writing the Intellectual History of Caesarism in the era of the Franco-Prussian War 12/12/2019
Iain McDaniel - Writing the Intellectual History of Caesarism in the era of the Franco-Prussian War Dr Iain McDaniel (Sussex) delivered the 16th István Hont Memorial Lecture at the Institute of Intellectual History (St Andrews) on April 2, 2019.
info_outline Nathan Alexander - The Meanings of "Racism": Towards a history of the concept 12/07/2019
Nathan Alexander - The Meanings of "Racism": Towards a history of the concept Dr Nathan Alexander (Erfurt) delivered this talk at the University of St Andrews on February 2, 2019.
info_outline Robin Douglass - The Moral Psychology of the Social Contract 11/21/2019
Robin Douglass - The Moral Psychology of the Social Contract
info_outline Paul Wood - The Rise and Fall of the Common Sense 'School' of Philosophy 11/07/2019
Paul Wood - The Rise and Fall of the Common Sense 'School' of Philosophy The emergence of a Scottish 'school' of common sense philosophy has not yet been given the historical attention it deserves, despite the fact that the rise of common sense philosophy was one of the most important intellectual developments in the Atlantic world during the second half of the 18th century. In this lecture, Professor Paul Wood examines the responses of common sense philosophers such as James Beattie, James Oswald and Thomas Reid to David Hume's perceived scepticism and irreligion as well as Hume's subsequent reply to his critics. The lecture concludes with an account of the precipitous decline of the Scottish 'School' of common sense.
info_outline Blair Worden - Ben Jonson and Liberty 11/07/2019
Blair Worden - Ben Jonson and Liberty Professor Blair Worden is an expert on early modern European history and the English Civil War period in particular. He has written numerous books, the principal of which are The Rump Parliament, 1648-1653 (1974), The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney's 'Arcadia' and Elizabethan Politics (1996), Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity (2001), Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England: John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Marchamont Nedham (2007), The English Civil Wars 1640-1660 (2009) and God's Instruments: Political Conduct in the England of Oliver Cromwell (2012). In this lecture, Blair Worden explores Ben Jonson's conception of liberty in relation to the writing of history.
info_outline Riccardo Bavaj - The Spatiality of Ideas: Ernst Fraenkel, Richard Löwenthal, and the "Westernisation" of Political Thought 10/31/2019
Riccardo Bavaj - The Spatiality of Ideas: Ernst Fraenkel, Richard Löwenthal, and the "Westernisation" of Political Thought
info_outline Nicholas Mithen - Codifying Good Taste: Historical Scholarship and Epistemic Virtue in Early 18th Century Italy 10/31/2019
Nicholas Mithen - Codifying Good Taste: Historical Scholarship and Epistemic Virtue in Early 18th Century Italy
info_outline Teresa Bejan - Equality and hierarchy in the thought of Mary Astell 10/31/2019
Teresa Bejan - Equality and hierarchy in the thought of Mary Astell Ever since Mary Astell was introduced as the "First English Feminist" in 1986, scholars have been perplexed by her dual commitments to natural equality and social, political, and ecclesiastical hierarchy. But any supposed "paradox" in her though is the product of a modernist conceit that treats equality and hierarchy as antonyms, assuming the former must be prior, normative, and hostile to the latter. Seeing this, two other crucial features of Astell's thought emerge: her ethics of ascent and the psychology of superiority. These, in turn, illuminate her lifelong fascination with ambition as a feminine virtue, as well as her curious embrace of Machiavelli. Astell's politics and ethics are thus doubly worthy of recovery, both as the product of a singularly brilliant early modern mind and as a fascinating but forgotten vision of "equality before egalitarianism" that sheds light on the persistent complexities of equality and hierarchy to this day.
info_outline Susan James - Putting One's knowledge to work: Spinoza on 'fortitudo' 10/31/2019
Susan James - Putting One's knowledge to work: Spinoza on 'fortitudo' Recorded on February 13th 2018 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 Gareth Stedman Jones - Karl Marx and the Emergence of Social Democracy 09/19/2017
Gareth Stedman Jones - 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.