Where: ArtsTwo Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS London. View map here.
When: Tue 26 February 2019 18:30 – 21:00 GMT
How to book: This event is free and open to the public but registration is necessary. Reserve your place here.
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.
Professor Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor is Professor of Humanities at Queen Mary, based in the Schools of History and English and Drama. She is currently leading a 4-year project, ‘Pathologies of Solitude,18th – 21st C’, funded by the Wellcome Trust.