Lectures in Intellectual History

Institute of Intellectual History, University of St Andrews

Recordings from the popular public lecture series on intellectual history in all its forms and across all ages. From 2014 held at the University of St Andrews, and between 2010 and 2013 held at the University of Sussex.
Looking for recently uploaded episodes
The Dark Side of Enlightened Cosmopolitanism: Civilisation and Civil War

47:42 | Mar 14th, 2018

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 mig...Show More
Scotland, Europe and the End of Enlightenment

56:51 | Nov 22nd, 2017

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...Show More
Reflections on the Self Itself: in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and what happened next?

1:11:18 | Nov 6th, 2017

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 ...Show More
Monarchs in democracy

1:00:46 | Oct 17th, 2017

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 mak...Show More
Karl Marx and the Emergence of Social Democracy

56:30 | Sep 19th, 2017

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...Show More
Maria Edgeworth as political thinker: government, rebellion and punishment

46:43 | Apr 25th, 2017

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...Show More
Cosmology and Ritual Magic in the Late Middle Ages

56:54 | Apr 18th, 2017

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 Age...Show More
Natural law and casuistic reasoning in Roman jurisprudence

57:32 | Apr 11th, 2017

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 st...Show More
Wordsworth’s “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty” (1802-3) and the British Revolutionary Past

50:06 | Apr 4th, 2017

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 son...Show More
Just War Doctrine in Ancient Egypt

47:50 | Mar 28th, 2017

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 exclusive...Show More
How to do intellectual history

53:54 | Mar 7th, 2017

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,...Show More
George Berkeley in Livorno: Missionary Anglicanism and Commerce

48:09 | Feb 7th, 2017

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 proje...Show More
The Origins of Contemporary Liberal Theory Revisited

45:37 | Jan 23rd, 2017

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 seve...Show More
Hobbes, Rousseau and Democratic Politics

49:43 | Nov 29th, 2016

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, a...Show More
Marxism and the Middle Ages

48:43 | Nov 15th, 2016

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, meanw...Show More
Aristotle on the Ethics of Wealth

44:36 | Nov 1st, 2016

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 Ar...Show More
The ‘Family of Nations’: A rhetorical figure and its ideology

1:07:58 | Oct 10th, 2016

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 ana...Show More
Moral Knowledge and the Decline of the Grotian Programme

1:26:09 | Sep 27th, 2016

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...Show More
How to Plan a Global History of Political Thought

54:10 | Sep 20th, 2016

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 ...Show More
The Republican Theorist as Royal Servant: James Harrington’s Civil War

1:03:28 | Sep 13th, 2016

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 ap...Show More
Barons’ Wars, under other names: Magna Carta, Royalism, and the American Founding

51:43 | May 18th, 2016

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...Show More
A genealogy of liberty

54:36 | May 4th, 2016

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, th...Show More
The Enlightenment Narrative in the Age of Liberal Reform: William Robertson in Hungary

39:38 | Apr 5th, 2016

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, th...Show More
The contribution of the history of exegesis to the history of ideas

58:25 | Mar 8th, 2016

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...Show More
Liberty before neo-Roman republicanism: Haller’s restoration of political science

56:48 | Feb 2nd, 2016

For many Jacobins, Rousseau was a saintly figure who provided the blueprint for society. In light of the intensity in which his political ideas were discussed, it seemed inevitable that Rousseau would bear the brunt of the anti-revolutionary backlash...Show More
The Alexander Romance and the Birth of the Ottoman Empire

55:55 | Jan 26th, 2016

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 conquero...Show More
The Forgotten Range of Defences of Sociability: Hutcheson and Campbell on Hobbes

43:03 | Dec 2nd, 2015

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...Show More
Ce que nous allons devenir. Belgian national identity in eighteenth-century revolution

48:35 | Nov 10th, 2015

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 ...Show More
Why We Need a Global History of Political Thought

59:16 | Nov 4th, 2015

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 ...Show More
The History of Dialectical History: The Case of International Law

44:53 | Oct 30th, 2015

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 betwe...Show More
Reading and Remembering: Intellectual History and the Commonplace Book in the Long Eighteenth Century

44:53 | Sep 29th, 2015

A commonplace book, as eighteenth-century British people generally understood the term, was a handwritten document within which memories of various kinds could be captured and reused. But what was the purpose of this mnemonic exercise, and in what co...Show More
Hume, Smith and the Science of Man in Scotland

1:02:18 | Sep 15th, 2015

It is fairly conventional now to think of the ‘science of man’ as possibly the signal intellectual achievement of the Enlightenment in Scotland. David Hume coined the phrase and attached it to his Treatise of Human Nature, in which he placed the stu...Show More
Utilitarianism, the Moral Sciences, and Political Economy: Mill-Grote-Sidgwick

1:01:12 | May 11th, 2015

Henry Sidgwick was already something of an enigma in Cambridge less than six years after his death, and recent interest in his work has tended to compound this by re-inventing him as a modern moral philosopher. The Moral Sciences Tripos that Sidgwick...Show More
Jeremy Bentham on Truth and Utility

55:46 | May 5th, 2015

Jeremy Bentham has two very strong commitments in his thought: one is to the principle of utility, or the greatest happiness principle, as the fundamental principle of morality; the other is to truth, as indicated, for instance, in his opposition to ...Show More
A New Approach to the Intellectual Biography of David Hume

43:04 | Apr 14th, 2015

What kind of narrative order can be imposed on the intellectual development of David Hume, a man demonstrably interested in so many different things? The history of Hume scholarship suggests this question has been found hard to answer, not least beca...Show More
Intellectual History and the Study of Historiography

56:19 | Apr 10th, 2015

What is the nature of the relationship between intellectual history and the study of historiography, and where is this relationship going? Where might it go? Or, perhaps more importantly, where should it go? In this paper, Michael Bentley expertly na...Show More
The Problem of Political Counsel in Early Modern England

53:19 | Apr 7th, 2015

It’s a common saying that early modern England was a personal monarchy, but this era was also a conciliar age, with a polity saturated in counsel. The persistence and prevalence of counsel rested on entrenched assumptions about the nature of good rul...Show More
The Only Game in Town? Why did Early Modern Reformers of Natural Philosophy turn almost exclusively to the Occult to replace Scholasticism?

1:03:07 | Mar 31st, 2015

With the decline of Scholasticism, virtually all of the would-be reformers of philosophy resorted to some kind of unexplained activity in matter. Occult qualities, or mysterious hidden forces or powers in matter or in bodies which were responsible fo...Show More
Intellectual History and Women

48:46 | Mar 3rd, 2015

To bring women into the purview of intellectual history is not just to shine a spotlight into dark corners to reveal women that have been overlooked. There are many more historiographical issues to be faced, not least the fact that in order to instat...Show More
Otto of Freising and Historical Knowledge

53:02 | Feb 3rd, 2015

Otto of Freising, uncle of Emperor Frederick of Barbarossa, belonged to the highest circles of German nobility, but he was also one of the most philosophical historians of the Middle Ages. In this lecture, David Luscombe discusses the historical meth...Show More
China and the European Enlightenment

51:20 | Dec 2nd, 2014

Vital themes in Europe’s Enlightenment project included a new cosmopolitanism rooted in a growing awareness of other world cultures, an interest in forms of natural religion, and efforts to find a new foundation for social ethics apart from the moral...Show More
Sporting St Patrick’s Breastplate: war and peace in Irish Intellectual History

56:33 | Nov 18th, 2014

In this wonderfully rich talk, Norman Vance explains how three interpretations of the Irish hymn ‘The Breastplate of St Patrick’, from Catholic, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian perspectives, are a pathway to studying the wider context of Irish intelle...Show More
Lost or Found in Translation? Varieties of Political Economy in the Enlightenment

41:04 | Nov 14th, 2014

One of the themes of recent historiography in Enlightenment Studies focuses on how political economy gathers up so many of the key themes of the philosophers and reformers of the age into a discourse that crosses boundaries, national, institutional a...Show More
The Rise of Mechanism: What and Why?

55:13 | Nov 4th, 2014

At the end of the seventeenth century, corpuscularianism, the mechanical philosophy, and mechanics (as a branch of applied mathematics) were all rising in importance. In this paper, John Milton provides a definitive account of these three concepts, h...Show More
The City and the Soul in James Harrington’s Republicanism

51:45 | Oct 21st, 2014

The political theorist James Harrington transformed and deployed many aspects of ancient thinking about the ethical character of the state in his political thought. In this paper, Rachel Foxley analyses Harrington’s use of the correspondence between ...Show More
Political Economy and Utopia, or the Paternalistic Enlightenment in Scotland

55:23 | Oct 7th, 2014

Thomas Reid, the philosopher and founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense, did not publish much on politics, but his manuscripts reveal that he was deeply concerned with social, political and economic issues throughout his career. In this talk,...Show More
Exile from Exile: The Political Theory of Judith N. Shklar

53:20 | Sep 23rd, 2014

How has the concept of exile permeated the life and work of the political theorist Judith N. Shklar? In this talk, Andreas Hess discusses the subject of his recent book ‘Exile from Exile’.
Referees, Editors, and Printers in the Making of Scientific Knowledge

50:54 | May 27th, 2014

Why is journal publication so important in the history of science, and how are they responsible for the making of scientific knowledge? In this lecture, Aileen Fyfe reveals the story behind the pages of the oldest scientific journal in existence, the...Show More
Mill, Malthus and Class: Family Values and the Harm Principle

48:10 | May 6th, 2014

So much has been written about the harm principle central to John Stuart Mill’s classic work On Liberty that any attempt to supplement seems superfluous. However, an anomaly in accounts of one aspect of the text requires rectifying. In this lecture, ...Show More
The Political Economy of Empire

58:58 | Feb 4th, 2014

Historians of economics have always been attracted to the political economy of empire because it tells us so much about how serious economic thinking has been shaped by colonial themes. In this lecture, Donald Winch explores this importance of coloni...Show More
Sociability between Natural Law and Sacred History, 1650-1800

58:51 | Jan 28th, 2014

In this inaugural lecture of the Institute of Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews, Professor John Robertson asks how we can explain the concentration of interest, among the moral and political philosophers and historians of the Enlig...Show More
Every Great Revolution is a Civil War

53:26 | May 20th, 2013

According to Reinhart Koselleck, the eighteenth century witnessed the gradual and permanent separation of concepts of "civil war" and "revolution". Placing these ideas in a longer perspective – a longue durée that goes back to republican Rome and com...Show More
The Trials of Douglas Young: Hitler, Aristophanes and the SNP

1:02:48 | Apr 17th, 2013

2013 sees the centenary of the birth of Douglas Young, one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century Scottish nationalism. Leader of the SNP from 1942 to the end of the Second World War, Young was imprisoned twice for refusing conscription...Show More
On Historical Distance

52:36 | Mar 13th, 2013

Ideas of historical distance have long been fundamental to Western conceptions of historical knowledge. In practice, however, distance seems to have dwindled into little more than a professional shibboleth - a way of defending the historian’s labours...Show More
Democracy and Empire

51:57 | Mar 5th, 2013

One of the great surprises of modern thought is the survival of democracy. Today the victory of democracy continues to be associated with the American and French Revolutions. But democracy was for the most part castigated by reformers and revolutiona...Show More
Two 17th Century Century Concepts of Liberty and their Legacy

51:13 | Jan 23rd, 2013

Over the quarter of a millennium from the later seventeenth century to the Great War, the phrase ‘civil and religious liberty’ was a pervasive feature of English political language. How and why had the phrase come into being? In 1600 it would have be...Show More
The Mythos, Ethos, and Pathos of the Humanities

42:13 | Oct 11th, 2012

Justifications of the humanities often employ a mythos that exceeds their historical dispositions and reach. This applies to justifications that appeal to an ‘idea’ of the humanities grounded in the cultivation of reason for its own sake. But the sam...Show More
Calvinists, Socinians and Arminians: Reformation and natural rights in early modern political thought

46:21 | Oct 11th, 2012

In this lecture, James Moore discusses three denominations of Protestant theology: Calvinism, or the dogmatic theology of the Reformed or Presbyterian churches; the theology of the Arminians or the Remonstrants in the Netherlands, the most important ...Show More
Benjamin Franklin’s Radical Agrarian Project

58:52 | Jun 18th, 2012

Benjamin Franklin’s interest in physiocracy and the radical implications of French economic ideas extended from Turgot and Condorcet to the British radical milieus. In this lecture, Manuela Albertone highlights Franklin’s ability to deliver economic ...Show More
Karl Marx: ‘Ricardian Socialist’?

1:03:24 | May 9th, 2012

With the general loss of interest in Marx as an analyst of capitalism, argument over the development of his thinking, from his early writings to Capital Vol. I, has given way to a more or less uncritical acceptance of Capital as the centrepiece of h...Show More
Arnold Toynbee’s Industrial Revolution

49:19 | Apr 30th, 2012

Arnold Toynbee’s Oxford lectures on the ‘Industrial Revolution’ were once thought to have been responsible for coining and diffusing an idea that has remained essential to students of British history since the lectures were posthumously published in ...Show More
Travels with Alexis de Tocqueville

1:02:52 | Apr 17th, 2012

‘Demoracy in America’ by Alexis de Tocqueville is possibly the most famous book about America, but what did Tocqueville see when he visited America and how did his visit influence his writing? In this lecture, Jeremy Jennings seeks to answer both of ...Show More
The sociological imagination in mid-twentieth century Britain and America

56:20 | Mar 12th, 2012

How has the language of social science penetrated its way into the everyday discourse of educated people, particularly in the period after the Second World War? In this lecture, Peter Mandler examines the extent to which people in mid-twentieth centu...Show More
Reading Rousseau in Latin America

49:48 | Feb 27th, 2012

It is well known that many of the leaders of the Wars of Independence invoked Rousseau in support of their challenge to colonial authority, but how exactly were Rousseau’s works read and interpreted in early nineteenth-century Latin America? In this ...Show More
What gave you that idea Paddy?

50:01 | Feb 6th, 2012

Is there such a thing as ‘the Irish mind’, or is that the ultimate Irish joke? If there is a distinctive Irish intellectual history, how did it develop in the face of the disruptions of a complicated and traumatic political and social history? Someho...Show More
The very idea of the University

49:33 | Dec 5th, 2011

Stefan Collini offers a few brief reflections on the history and current state of the institution we call the university, and then goes on to propose a vocabulary and a perspective which enable us to discuss the role of such institutions in more frui...Show More
The Pilgrim’s Progress in the Evangelical Revival

1:13:50 | Nov 21st, 2011

First published in two parts in 1678 and 1683, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ was to become the most popular religious work in English after the King James Bible. In this lecture, Isabel Rivers explores its fortunes in the evangelical revival of the eighteenth...Show More
Sacred History and Political Thought 1650-1750

1:04:19 | Oct 18th, 2011

How was the Hobbesian proposition - that man was not naturally sociable - answered by recourse to sacred history, the account of the ancient Hebrews and contemporary peoples found in the Old Testament? Focussing particularly on the Neapolitan histori...Show More
John Maynard Keynes: Economist as Biographer and Intellectual Historian

57:00 | Jun 6th, 2011

Biography was an occupation which sustained Keynes throughout his life in parallel with his work as an economist, and it resulted in his ‘Essays in Biography’, first published in 1933 but expanded by later essays that make up the Royal Economic Socie...Show More
Anglican Enlightenment and Christian revelation: The reception of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall

52:55 | Mar 2nd, 2010

In 1776, two chapters of Edward Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall’ on the spread of Christianity were published. They aroused such controversy that it is still supposed that Gibbon wrote his history as an attack on religion. In this lecture, Professor Pococ...Show More