Hume Conference

Organiser: Felix Waldmann, Christ’s College, Cambridge

Thursday 22 June, 1.45 pm – 5.50 pm

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square, Edinburgh

Provisional schedule:

1.45 pm           Opening Remarks

Session 1         Chair: Nicholas Phillipson (Edinburgh)

2.00 pm           Thomas Ahnert (Edinburgh): ‘Hume and the Moderate Presbyterians’

2.35 pm           James Harris (St Andrews): ‘Hume and John Wilkes’

3.10 pm           Discussion

3.40 pm           Tea Break

Session 2         Chair: Catherine Jones (Aberdeen)

4.10 pm           Robin Mills (UCL): ‘Hume, Beattie, Forbes’

4.45 pm           Felix Waldmann (Cambridge): ‘Hume and the Seymour Conway family’

5.20 pm           Discussion

5.50 pm           Reception

‘Consciousness’ and ‘Public’: Two Case Studies of Text- and Data-Mining Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) 

Mikko Tolonen (University of Helsinki)

Friday 12 May 2017, 4.30 – 6.00 pm

Room 2.36, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place

This paper shows how the uses of the term ‘consciousness’ developed throughout eighteenth-century Britain from its Lockean premises towards a broader polysemy. It will then turn to map different uses of the term ‘public’ with an aim to show how the late eighteenth century is a distinctive period in a Habermasian sense, compared to earlier times with respect to pamphleteering in particular. The motivation for the paper is thus to give two different examples to demonstrate that analyses of clusters of different words and how they change over time can have a significant impact on eighteenth-century intellectual history. This paper is based on multidisciplinary work carried out by COMHIS Collective research group at the University of Helsinki.

Mikko Tolonen is an intellectual historian. His main research interest is in the Scottish Enlightenment. His monograph, Mandeville and Hume. Anatomists of Civil Society was published in 2013 by the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford.

The Death of Romanticism and its Philological and Historical Consequences

Prof. Suzanne Marchand (Louisiana State University)

Thursday, 13 April 2017, 4.00 – 6.00 pm

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: The event will now be held in the Baille Room at New College, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. Entry is through the Ramsey Lane Wing. The way to the seminar room will be clearly signposted.

This paper begins with a discussion of the similarities and differences exhibited by Enlightened and Romantic studies of the ancient world, noting their common passionate interest in the history of religion and mythology.  It then argues that a turning point toward more ‘modern’ forms of inquiry occurs not in the 1790s but in the 1820s, and is the result less of a new ‘historicism’ than of the embarrassment scholars now felt about previous discussions of mythology, prehistory, and universal history.  The signature controversy of the day, involving Friedrich Creuzer’s immensely popular Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, besonders der Griechen (1810-12), demonstrates the ways in which Romantic (and Enlightened) forms of scholarship came under fire among Restoration liberals terrified of Catholic reaction and idealist speculation.  The paper concludes by discussing the roads out of the Symbolik, one positivistic (prevailing in history writing and philology proper, which split into classical, oriental, and Germanic branches) and one philosophical (prevailing among Hegelians, young and old).  It argues that this was probably a necessary division of disciplinary labor, but one that largely cut academic writing off from popular universal histories, and one that also had the unpleasant outcome of cutting ancient Greece off from the history of the Orient and wider Mediterranean world.

Suzanne Marchand is Boyd Professor of European Intellectual History at Louisiana State University. Her other publications include German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Religion, Race and Scholarship (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany,1750-1970 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

This paper is sponsored jointly by the Leverhulme Trust and ECENS.

Fénelon’s Political Economy Between Antiquity and Modernity

Ryan Patrick Hanley (Marquette University)

Monday 23 January, 4.00 pm

Meadows Lecture Theatre, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School

Ryan Hanley is Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, Wisconsin. He is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge UP, 2009) and Love’s Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge UP, 2016).

This event is organised jointly by the Institute for Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews and the Eighteenth-Century and Enlightenment Studies Network at Edinburgh.

Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars: 2017 Programme

The seminar series seeks to provide a regular inter-disciplinary forum for postgraduate and early-career researchers working on the eighteenth century to meet and discuss their research.

All seminars will be held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm.

ECRS is supported by the Eighteenth-Century and Enlightenment Studies Network (ECENS) of the University of Edinburgh.

Natural History of Empire: Edinburgh and Enlightenment Ethnography

Linda Andersson-Burnett (Linnaeus University) and Bruce Buchan (Griffith University)

Friday 6 May 2016, 3 – 4.30 pm

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh

This paper will present a new research project that will examine the relationship between the notion of ‘universal humanity’ and eighteenth-century colonialism. It will explore how Enlightenment notions of humanity hinged on the emergence of a colonial ethnography combining Linnaean natural history with Scottish moral philosophical theories of stadial historical progress exemplified in the writings of colonial ‘travellers’ educated in medicine and botany at the University of Edinburgh.  By focusing on the ‘borders of humanity’ it will employ techniques of intellectual history to trace the definitional limits at the core of the concept of humanity.  The paper will explore these limits in a selection of case studies of knowledge formation and circulation at the Universities of Edinburgh and Uppsala and in colonial engagements within Europe (Sápmi and Scottish Highlands) and with Creole and Indigenous peoples in Asia, America and Australia.  This will make it possible to chart how European ideas of humanity and human diversity, imbibed through Edinburgh University’s curricula, were carried to colonial settings, applied and transformed by colonial encounters.

Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar Series 2016

Monday 9 May 2016, 4.30 – 6 pm.

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh.

Emily Knight, University of Oxford: ‘The Death of a Child: Posthumous Portraits of Children in Eighteenth-Century Britain’

Sarah Burdett, University of York: ‘“Weeping Mothers Shall Applaud”: Sarah Yates as Margaret of Anjou on the London Stage, 1797’

The Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars series is convened by Felicity Loughlin, Freya Gowrley, and Maeve O’Dwyer. For a full programme, please click here.

Symposium on Hume: an Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris

A symposium to mark the publication of Hume. An Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris.

Friday, 11 March, 2 – 5.30 pm

Venue: Meadows Lecture Theatre, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Doorway 4, Teviot Place, Edinburgh.

2.00 – 2.15 pm: Introduction (Thomas Ahnert)

2.15 – 3.15 pm: Hume on Human Nature and Politics
Chair: Knud Haakonssen (Erfurt and St Andrews)                                                Commentators: Tim Stuart-Buttle (Cambridge) and Mikko Tolonen (Helsinki)

3.15 – 3.30 pm: Coffee and Tea (Jim McMillan Room, 1.31)

3.30 – 4.30 pm: Hume as Historian and Man of Letters
Chair: Nicholas Phillipson (Edinburgh)
Commentators: Moritz Baumstark (Munich) and Catherine Jones (Aberdeen)

4.30 – 5. 30 pm: Response by James Harris and general discussion.

Participants must register. If you are interested in attending, please email

The event is supported by Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History, and the Edinburgh Eighteenth-Century and Enlightenment Studies Network.

Challenging the Boundaries of Humankind: Orangutans and savage men in the British debates about slavery (1770s-80s)

Dr Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS)

Monday 22 June, 4 pm

G.13, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School

This paper aims to historicize the boundaries of humankind within a specific context, and around a particular object: the orangutan, or rather the chimpanzee, according to current classification. The paper will aim to show that the orangutan is at the heart of the debates on slavery in 1770s Britain, at the very moment in which England and Scotland approved antislavery laws.

The hypothesis is that the positions in favour of the animality or of the humanity of the savage or black slave drew directly from the repertoire of facts and proofs provided by comparative anatomy. This paper will therefore trace the uses to which the work of the anatomist Edward Tyson was put. His dissection of an orangutan in 1698, and his point-by-point comparison with the human body, marked a shift in medical practices that affected the philosophical and historical definition of man throughout the eighteenth century.

The paper will deal with two specific cases that emphasize the historical relationship between orangutans and humans, albeit from different positions and with distinct goals: the Scottish judge and erudite linguist James Burnet, Lord Monboddo, who, following Jean-Jacques Rousseau, saw the orangutan as the example of the primordial man; and the historian of Jamaica, Edward Long, an English planter and judge of the Admiralty Court, who stressed the resemblance between the orangutan and black slaves, in order to defend slavery within the British Empire. Developing at the crossroad between different fields of knowledge and channels of information, this controversy acquires a global dimension, mobilizing a broad range of actors and spaces.

Silvia Sebastiani is Maître de conférences, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris