Inaugural Lecture: Barbara Taylor – Tuesday 26 February 2019
February 26 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Professor Barbara Taylor
Chair- Professor Cora Kaplan
The philosopher mediating alone in his study is a cliché of western culture. But behind the hackneyed image lies a long history of controversy. Was solitude the ‘school of genius’, as Edward Gibbon claimed, or did it breed irrationalism, dogmatism and melancholy, as Dr Johnson and others insisted? In the 1730s David Hume suffered a breakdown which he attributed to his solitary philosophising; three decades later, in a much-publicised quarrel with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hume attacked Rousseau’s reclusiveness as ‘savage’, ‘bestial’, the mark of an ‘arrant madman’. A life of lone thought was pathological: a judgement that still finds echoes in present-day concerns about social isolation and loneliness.