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Sociology: Events


What did the Enlightenment Scots ever do for us? Hume and Smith as sociologists

What did the Enlightenment Scots ever do for us? Hume and Smith as sociologists
Speaker: Professor Jonathan Hearn # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
24th Oct 2018 11:00 - 24th Oct 2018 12:00
6th Floor Staff Room CMB

This talk draws on an emerging thread in my research and writing examining the current relevance of the ideas of David Hume and especially Adam Smith. While it is anachronistic to shoehorn 18th century thinkers into 21st century academic disciplines, nonetheless their reputations as philosophers and economists have obscured the scope of their ideas, and their significance for sociology today. Their treatments of the nature of knowledge and inquiry, the relationship between reason and emotion, economic and social change, and the distribution of power in society, are compelling and still relevant. The talk will focus on three analytic concepts: the division of labour, the nation/society, and sympathy. I aim to invite wide-ranging discussion about any issues concerning the relevance of Scottish Enlightenment thought for current sociology.

For context I will provide pdfs of three of my relevant publications in advance of the talk, for people to peruse or ignore as they wish:

‘How to Read the Wealth of Nations (or why the division of labor is more important than competition in Adam Smith)’, Sociological Theory 36(2): 162-184, 2018.

‘Demos before Democracy: Ideas of Nation and Society in Adam Smith’, Journal of Classical Sociology, 6(2): 396-414, 2016.

‘Once More with Feeling: The Scottish Enlightenment, Sympathy and Social Welfare’, Ethics and Social Welfare 10(3): 211-223, 2016.

Supporting documents