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Did Scottish thinkers invent the modern world? A debate.

Join Professor Tom Devine and a panel of leading scholars for a lively public debate on 24 February.

Portrait of William Roberston

The event, presented by The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, will be held at 6pm in George Square Lecture Theatre.

Change of venue

Please note that the venue has changed from Lecture Theatre 5, Appleton Tower, to George Square Lecture Theatre due to overwhelming demand.

The background

The Scottish Enlightenment of the eighteenth century is justly famed as a period of quite remarkable intellectual and cultural achievement.

In recent years some have argued that the ideas of the thinkers of that time were also basic to the making of modern western democracy, the capitalist system and much else.

The thesis was given a higher profile in the best-selling volume by Arthur Herman, The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots' Invention of the Modern World (2002).

This has become a kind of source book for those Scottish politicians keen to demonstrate how the nation's past glories can act as a platform for the development of an even more prosperous future.

The debate

How convincing are these arguments which, after all, run to the very heart of Scotland's identity, sense of itself and its impact on the world?

Are they reliably based on the available evidence or do they rather reflect the exaggerated ethnic conceit of a small stateless nation?

Event fully booked

Due to the popularity of this event all tickets have now been allocated.

We're sorry if you were unable to reserve a place this time, but hope you will join us for future events.

The panel

  • Dr Thomas Ahnert - Lecturer in Early Modern Intellectual History, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr David Allan - Reader in Scottish History, University of St Andrews
  • Professor Alexander Broadie – FRSE Chair of Logic and Rhetoric, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Tom Devine - FRSE FBA Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography and Director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Susan Manning - FRSE Grierson Chair of Literature and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Christopher Smout - FRSE FBA Historiographer Royal in Scotland

Event details

Did Scottish thinkers invent the modern world? A debate.

This event may be photographed or recorded for promotional or recruitment materials for the University and University approved third parties.

Tuesday 24 February 2009, 6.00pm

Tuesday 24 February 2009, 7.45pm

George Square Lecture Theatre, George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LK.

Find George Square lecture theatre on campus maps

Contact details

For more information on the event, including any accessibility enquiries, contact Anne Brockington.

Special article found - identified by: 1.7273

The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies

The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies is the world's first advanced research centre for the study of the nature, origins and global impact of the emigrations of the Scottish people.

The Centre was established through a generous endowment by Mr Alan McFarlane, Managing Director of Walter Scott & Partners Limited, and his wife, Anne.