David Wootton, « Power, pleasure and profit: insatiable appetites from Hobbes to Smith » (09/05)

David Wootton (Anniversary Professor, University of York) présentera sa communication “Power, pleasure and profit: insatiable appetites from Hobbes to Smith » autour de son livre Power, Pleasure and Profit (Harvard UP, 2018) jeudi 9 mai 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

« My argument is that moral, social, and economic life was transformed in line with Hobbes’s claim that pleasure and happiness are purely subjective, and that there is no summum bonum or highest good. I trace the impact of this view through the moral, political and economic thinking of the Enlightenment, particularly the British Enlightenment, from Locke to Bentham. In my talk I will touch briefly on some of the key themes of my book (with particular reference to Hume), and I will look in particular at a topic where much of the pioneering intellectual work was French, but which lie at the heart of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776): the question of famine. I will argue that Smith’s inability to think about famine is symptomatic of the intellectual failures of the post-Hobbesian Enlightenment. These intellectual failures continue to be our own. »

David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He works on European cultural and intellectual history from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. He has published widely on the history of science and medicine (Bad Medicine: Doctors doing harm since Hippocrates, 2006, Galileo: Watcher of the Skies, 2010 and The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution, 2016). His latest book, Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison was recently published by Harvard University Press (2018). 

Discutante : Catherine Marshall (Cergy-Pontoise)

Contact : Emmanuelle de Champs: emmanuelle.de-champ@u-cergy.fr  

Helen Berry: “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings” (18/04)

Helen Berry (Université de Newcastle), “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings”. Jeudi 18 avril 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

«  Helen Berry’s new book Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London’s Foundlings (Oxford: OUP, 2019) tells the story of what happened to the thousands of children who were raised at the London Foundling Hospital, Coram’s brainchild, which opened in 1741 and grew to become the most famous charity in Georgian England. It provides vivid insights into the lives and fortunes of London’s poorest children, from the earliest days of the Foundling Hospital to the mid-Victorian era, when Charles Dickens was moved by his observations of the charity’s work to campaign on behalf of orphans. Through the lives of London’s foundlings, this book provides readers with a street-level insight into the wider global history of a period of monumental change in British history as the nation grew into the world’s leading superpower. Some foundling children were destined for Britain’s ‘outer Empire’ overseas, but many more toiled in the ‘inner Empire’, labouring in the cotton mills and factories of northern England at the dawn of the new industrial age.

Through extensive archival research, Helen Berry uncovers previously untold stories of what happened to former foundlings, including the suffering and small triumphs they experienced as child workers during the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes, using many different fragments of evidence, the voices of the children themselves emerge. Extracts from George King’s autobiography, the only surviving first-hand account written by a Foundling Hospital child born in the eighteenth century, published here for the first time, provide touching insights into how he came to terms with his upbringing. Remarkably he played a part in Trafalgar, one of the most iconic battles in British Naval history. His personal courage and resilience in overcoming the disadvantages of his birth form a lasting testimony to the strength of the human spirit. »   

Répondant : Isabelle Robin, Sorbonne Université