A History of the ‘Anecdote’ and Hume’s Circle in Bristol, 1734

Tomáš Kunca (Charles University, Prague)

Friday, 5 October 2018, 4.00 – 5. 30 pm

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), Hope Park Square (map)

This paper will present new evidence on Hume´s time in Bristol in 1734 and draw some conclusions allowing a modified interpretation of this period in Hume´s life. In the beginning of the paper, Hume´s plan for Bristol from his ‘Letter to a Physician’ (March/April 1734) is going to be briefly discussed. His period in Bristol is presented in a more or less constant form over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, and I shall discuss particular versions in their broader contexts. The principal members of Hume´s circle in Bristol appear to have been his master (Michael Miller ?), and particularly  his friend, Mr. John Peach, a merchant (linen draper) of Bristol, possibly a friend of Dr Thomas Sheridan, a literary instructor of young Hannah More, and a patron of John Cleland. Newly discovered facts about the life both of Michael Miller and John Peach offer an opportunity to present a fuller picture of Hume´s mission to Bristol including some important biographical information.

Tomáš Kunca is a Senior Lecturer in British philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague. His research and teaching interests include Hume, Mandeville, the history of the Scottish Enlightenment, and the transatlantic slave trade. Since defending his doctoral thesis on Hume´s experimental approach to philosophical anthropology in 2013, he has organized international conferences in Prague (2015, 2016). He is also the organizer of an international conference in June 2019 on Slavery, Religion, and Enlightenment. He has worked in particular on the biography of David Hume, especially the period around his “disease of the learned”  from 1729 – 1734, and his short period in Bristol in 1734. He is preparing several publications on Hume´s biography circa 1729 – 1734.

This event is organised jointly with the Intellectual History Research Group in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

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