This lecture by Professor David Purdie and Alexander Stoddart discussed the legacy of David Hume, Adam Smith and Robert Burns. Their words were accompanied by projections of an impressive array of illustration and photography. Purdie discussed where in Edinburgh each resided and reflected on their lives in Edinburgh during the Enlightenment.Alexander Stoddart’s contributed by discussing the journey creating the statues of three key figures of the Scottish enlightenment that decorate the streets Edinburgh. It was remarkable to hear about the process of making these statues. He explained the materials used and the labour involved and gave a highly passionate and informative speech.
The majority of the historical information was provided by Purdie, as an expert on 18th century enlightenment, showed great passion and had exceptional delivery. He explained the background of Hume and his significance. Hume, as an empiricist, was one of the most important contributors to Western philosophy. Hume led the idea that knowledge and truth can only come from experience and the senses, something science assumes for a logical argument. Therefore, this shows the connection between empiricism that led to the constitution of the principles of Western science as it stands today.
Purdie continued the lecture by turning to economist Adam Smith. Smith pioneered the ideas of free trade, the division of labour and specialization. The economist saw this as a practical benefit for the individual and society. His theory has been the foundation for modern capitalism today. Smith’s ideas are currently the subject of intense debate. This lecture, however, did not question the challenges the world faces due to the free trade agreement and how Smith’s capitalist model is currently impacting globally. Purdie merely provided detailed contextual and historical information. He portrayed Adam Smith’s social life, where he lived in Edinburgh and introduced some of his key texts.
Finally, the professor turned to speak about writer and composer Robert Burns giving clear and detailed background information. He read extracts of some of Burns most profound use of the English language and praised him as the patrimony and property of mankind.
The lecture reflected the importance of Scotland and Edinburgh globally. It brought views of 18th century Edinburgh to life. The inclusion of photographs of the important locations in Edinburgh where Hume, Burns and Smith lived gave Edinburgh heritage a new glint. Purdie’s insight into the 18th century and the connections between the most influential philosophers and writers at the time really brought the era to life.