• Date & Time:

  • Location:

    Royal Society of Edinburgh
    22-26 George Street
    EH2 2PQ

ON HOLD: The Enlightenment in the Twenty-First Century


In light of the Scottish and UK Governments’ advice around COVID-19, we have taken the decision to cancel or postpone all the events we had planned up to the end of June.

The rescheduling of this event is underway; more information to follow.


What is the Enlightenment and why is it relevant to the modern world? Anthony Pagden, Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Political Science and History at the University of California, Los Angeles, explores the ideals of the Enlightenment, drawing on the Marquis de Condorcet’s unfinished, but widely read Sketch for a Historical Progress of the Human Mind (1794) to explore the importance of a free mind and ‘sympathy’ as envisioned by David Hume in realising these ideals today. Aside from our own world, these ideals might ultimately inform the development of human society beyond the Earth.

The lecture will be followed by an in-conversation discussion with Professor Charles Cockell FRSE.

This event is part of a wider event on Extraterrestrial Liberty, which includes an open public exhibition on ‘From Prison to Mars: The Space Art and Science of the Scottish Prison Population’.


Professor David Bell CBE FRSE, Vice-President of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Royal Society of Edinburgh


Anthony Pagden, University of California, Los Angeles

Anthony Pagden is currently Distinguished Professor, in the Departments of Political Science and History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously he was Reader in Modern Intellectual History at Cambridge University, and Professor of Modern History at the Johns Hopkins University. He has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, The European University Institute, Harvard University, The Institute for the Humanities, The University of Michigan, The Centre for Kulturforskning, University of Aarhus, Laboratoire de anthropologie social CNRS (Paris), and the École des hautes études (Paris). He is the author of numerous books which have been translated into several European and Asian languages, including The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters.