Thursday, 17 February 2011

"Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains."




As we move across the 'enlightenment' to the origins of socialism and its relationship to utopianism, it is a good idea to think again about how ideas of 'nature' and humanity's relationship to it were changing.

BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time' has a discussion of


Rousseau, The Social Contract


Various authors (Claeys, Manuels, Kumar) discuss Rousseau's relationship to the utopian tradition. So even though this is not one of our set texts if would make useful listening for anybody interested in free will/law or the individual and society. You can listen again on the BBC website or download as a podcast.

The academics on the programme are drawn from History, Philosophy and Literature departments - so the discussion in itself addresses some of our dilemmas about 'what is History'.

Or you can look him up on the Stanford Philosophy site.

An exhibition on other contemporary treatment of the theme of the 'noble savage' can be found on Cook, Omai and Arcadia here. Close to York you can also visit the house where Cook was apprenticed in Whitby which has an excellent exhibition on his voyages in the Pacific and reactions to the native peoples he found there.
Picture: Portrait of Omai by Joshua Reynolds, 1776 (Tate Britain).

Even in the 16th century Montaigne was beginning to reassess the relationship between the Old and New world and consider some of the new lessons that 'old' peoples could learn from 'new' (see readings for week 5 on 'dreaming').

This post is an updated version of an original post in 2008.

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