David Hume and his 18th Century Contexts
David Hume and his 18th Century Contexts: A Tercentenary Celebration
This interdisciplinary group in eighteenth-century studies was assembled from faculty and graduate students in philosophy, law, literary studies (both English and German), politics, and history. In this forum, we will read and discuss the full range of Hume's writings in their original contexts. At each meeting, we will read one of Hume's texts alongside a relevant contextual work: for example, Hume's Essays, with the periodical essay series The Spectator, which played a formative role in shaping Edinburgh in Hume's time; or the discussion of the passions in Hume's Treatise alongside his friend Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments; or his formative writings on philosophy and the sociology of religion alongside contemporary satires on religious enthusiasm.
These meetings will lead up to a conference on (or near) 26 April 2011, featuring the entire group and visits from two Hume scholars in separate disciplines. The tercentenary of Hume's birth provides an ideal opportunity for scholars from a range of disciplines to take up Hume's own challenge to pursue interdisciplinarity: in Of Essay Writing, Hume praises his moment for having overcome "the separation of the learned from the conversable world [that] seems to have been the great defect of the last age." Learning cannot flourish when confined to a "moping recluse method of study", but instead, must thrive in company. Our group will provide the means for scholars in our own moment to meet Hume on his terms.