The Essay

Monday - Thursday 23.00 - 23.15

Monday - Thursday series of cultural talks.

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
ESSAY

Monday - Thursday 23.00 - 23.15

Monday - Thursday series of cultural talks.

ESSAY20151001

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom goes in search of the 'average' man or woman.

ESSAYEnlightenment Voices, Smith/hume, 02/12/200920091202

Series exploring the work of philosopher and 'father' of modern economics Adam Smith.

Vincent Cable, MP and Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman explores some of Smith's groundbreaking theories and insights into human nature and our relationship with money.

What advice might Smith have for today's economists?

Vincent Cable MP wonders what Smith would make of today's global financial crisis.

ESSAYEnlightenment Voices, Smith/hume, 04/12/2009 *20091204

Series exploring the work of philosopher David Hume, one of the major figures in the Scottish Enlightenment.

David Hume enjoyed huge fame and respect in his lifetime, yet he considered his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion too provocative to be published within his own lifetime.

Philosopher Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University analyses Hume's ground breaking thoughts about religion in Dialogues.

Simon Blackburn assesses Hume's revolutionary Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

ESSAY01Enlightenment Voices, Diderot, Part 120100118

It is hard to over-estimate the scope and ambition of the Encyclopedie.

Published in two decades after 1751, it was the single greatest publishing enterprise of the European Enlightenment.

Extending to 28 folio volumes, each a thousand pages in length, and with the intention of recording all existing knowledge, both practical and intellectual, the Encyclopedie contained some 72,000 articles by 230 contributors and sold an astonishing 250,000 copies across Europe.

For the first of five programmes, the historian Justin Champion introduces the undertaking, from the commissioning of contributors to the practicalities of printing, binding and distribution, and on to its reception both by ordinary readers and by the political and religious authorities.

In Justin's introduction Denis Diderot, the son of a provincial cutler, is brought back to life as the extraordinary driving passion behind this breathtaking landmark both of publishing history and the Enlightenment project.

Justin Champion introduces French philosopher Denis Diderot's Encyclopedie project.

ESSAY01Enlightenment Voices, Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 120091123

Series exploring the work of philosopher, writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Distinguished scholar Janet Todd considers Wollstonecraft alongside other great thinkers of the Enlightenment.

She places her passionate belief in feminism within the context of a broader, radical belief in social reform, from state politics to inheritance, slavery, land ownership, capitalism and education.

Reader: Tessa Nicholson.

Janet Todd considers Mary Wollstonecraft alongside other great Enlightenment thinkers.

ESSAY01Enlightenment Voices, Robert Hooke, Hooke's Diary2009100520101129

For those of us who studied Physics at school, we may know the name of Robert Hooke from "Hooke's Law" - the theory of elasticity.

However most people will probably be unaware of Robert Hooke's greater contribution to the development of science during the Enlightenment.

To his contemporaries, he was the "ingenius Mr.

Hooke".

He developed the microscope, spring pocket watch, a marine barometer, the universal joint (which is still used in cars today), was an architect, astronomer and had done much of the work on gravitational theory before Sir Isaac Newton.

Very much the man about town and at the centre of events, Professor Lisa Jardine examines Hooke's diary and the insight it gives us into the world of the Enlightenment scientists.

5 October 1675

'By water with Harry to Whitehall.

Called first at Merchant Taylors hall.

Walked into the Park with Sir Christopher Wren.

The King called me to him, bid me shew him my experiment.

Followed him through tennis court garden and into his closet.

Shewed him the Experiment of Springs.

He was very well pleased."

Producer: Sarah Taylor

(Repeat).

Lisa Jardine on what Robert Hooke's diary says about Enlightenment scientists in general.

Series exploring the work of scientific pioneer Robert Hooke.

While he was well-known for Hooke's Law - the theory of elasticity - this great scientist was less acknowledged for his greater contribution to the development of science during the Enlightenment.

He developed the microscope, spring pocket watch, a marine barometer, the universal joint - still used in cars today, was an architect, astronomer and had done much of the work on gravitational theory before Isaac Newton.

Professor Lisa Jardine examines Hooke's diary and the insight it gives us into the world of the Enlightenment scientists.

ESSAY01Enlightenment Voices, Smith/hume, Part 120091130

Series exploring the work of philosopher and 'father' of modern economics Adam Smith.

Professor Alexander Brodie explores Smith's observations on morality and human behaviour.

Smith believed that morality is, or should be, a lifelong project that leaves no space for complacency about our moral status.

Whatever we have achieved already, we could still make progress and we could still fall.

Alexander Brodie examines Smith's observations on morality and human behaviour.

ESSAY02Enlightenment Voices, Diderot, Part 220100119

Considering it was published in the 1750s, the Encyclopedie, with its 28 folio volumes and 72,000 articles, puts the wonders of the internet firmly in the shade.

Dr Kate Tunstall and Dr Caroline Warman, both of whom teach French at The University of Oxford, are passionate enthusiasts of the Encyclopedie.

In this evening's programme, they broadcast from the Taylorian Institute in Oxford, pulling volume after immense folio volume from the open shelves to show how the complex system of renvois" or cross-references, makes the Encyclopedie both a mine of information about the Enlightenment and a browser's dream.

Kate Tunstall and Caroline Warman introduce the vast scope of Diderot's Encyclopdie."

ESSAY02Enlightenment Voices, Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 220091124

Series exploring the work of philosopher, writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Janet Todd of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, a renowned scholar of early women writers, examines Wollstonecraft's love-hate relationship with the character and writings of the great Swiss Enlightenment thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Reader: Tessa Nicholson.

Janet Todd on Mary Wollstonecraft and the character and writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

ESSAY02Enlightenment Voices, Robert Hooke, Hooke And The Royal Society20091006

Series exploring the work of the scientific pioneer Robert Hooke.

Dr Felicity Henderson, manager of the Royal Society's 'History of Science Events' looks through the great science academy's archives to shed light on the ground-breaking exploits of Hooke, who was curator of experiments, as well as the founder members.

She explores how Hooke was instrumental in the organisation's early success.

Dr Felicity Henderson discusses Hooke's influence at the Royal Society.

ESSAY02Enlightenment Voices, Smith/hume, Part 220091201

Series exploring the work of philosopher and 'father' of modern economics Adam Smith.

Historian and novelist James Buchan looks back to the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment and their interpretation of whether 'luxury' was a motivating benefit for society.

Medieval historians felt that luxury was a threat to the immortal soul.

In the 18th century, philosophers moralised on how best to deal with the new commercial society.

James Buchan considers how the idea of medieval 'luxury' became modern political economy.

ESSAY02Enlightenment Voices, Spinoza, Part 220100112

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Prof Susan James from Birkbeck College, University of London, explores Spinoza's philosophical work on the role of democracy in 17th-century Europe.

Spinoza's defence of democracy, along with his commitment to religious pluralism, set him apart from his contemporaries, and started a new line of political thinking which stretches to today.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

Susan James explores Spinoza's work on the role of democracy in 17th century Europe.

ESSAY03Enlightenment Voices, Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 320091125

Series exploring the work of great philosopher, writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Baroness Helena Kennedy, who has built a reputation as a fighter for civil liberties, human rights and social justice, dicusses how Wollstonecraft influenced her life and work.

Reader: Tessa Nicholson.

Barrister Helena Kennedy on how Mary Wollstonecraft influenced her life and work.

ESSAY03Enlightenment Voices, Robert Hooke, Hooke's Ideas And Methods2009100720101201

Robert Hooke was one of the great experimental scientists of his day.

He devised the first successful vacuum pump for Robert Boyle in 1659.

This revolutionary piece of apparatus, which was a star turn at Royal Society experiment meetings, overturned Aristotle's 2000 year old dictum that 'nature abhors a vacuum'.

His work with microscopes led to the publication of his best selling work, 'Micrographia'.

A book so riveting that Samuel Pepys sat up until 2 in the morning reading his copy, calling it 'the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life'.

Dr.

Allan Chapman, from Wadham College, Oxford (Hooke's Alma Mater) charts the progress of Hooke's discoveries as one of the founding architects of modern science.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

(Repeat).

Allan Chapman explores Robert Hooke's revolutionary ideas and methods.

Series exploring the work of the scientific pioneer Robert Hooke.

Dr Allan Chapman, of Hooke's alma mater, Wadham College, Oxford, explores Hooke's revolutionary ideas and methods.

One of the great experimental scientists of his day, he devised the first successful vacuum pump and his work with microscopes led to the publication of his best-selling work, Micrographia, a book so riveting that Samuel Pepys called it 'the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life'.

ESSAY03Enlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire, Sarkozy And The Burka Debate20090930

Series exploring the work of the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

French journalist Agnes Poirier asks what Voltaire, the father of 'laicite' - France's version of secularism - would say about the debate taking place in her country about banning the burka, the head-to-toe Islamic veil.

Reader: Philip Fox.

Agnes Poirier asks how Voltaire would view the debate in France about banning the burka.

ESSAY03Enlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire, Sarkozy And The Burqa Debate20101124

In a series on the great thinkers of the European Enlightenment originally broadcast in 2009, the French journalist Agnes Poirier imagines a dialogue between Voltaire and President Sarkozy on the issue of legislating about the wearing of the burqa in public.

Nicolas Sarkozy is alone at night in the gilded rooms of the Elysee Palace.

Carla Bruni is out at a gig with Mick Jagger but the President has something rather more serious on his mind - In July 2009, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy set up a Parliamentary committee to consider a possible ban in France of the burqa, the full Islamic dress.

Agnes Poirier imagines the ruminations of the tired President: what would Voltaire, the father of "laicite" - the uniquely French interpretation of secularism - say on the matter? Would he ban the burqa? Sarkozy drifts off to sleep and finds himself in the oak-panelled library at the Chateau de Ferney, home of Voltaire.

In a witty and thought-provoking tour de force of an Essay, French journalist Agnes Poirier brings Voltaire and his views firmly into the contemporary realm in an examination of one of the most vexed debates in France today.

French born Agnès Poirier moved to London in 1995 and started writing as an independent journalist for Le Monde (1996) and then for Le Figaro as UK arts correspondent (1997-2001).

Between 2001 and 2006, she was a political correspondent and film critic for Libération.

Today, she is a UK editor for French and Italian weeklies Le Nouvel Obs, La Vie, L'Espresso and a regular contributor to the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Al Jazeera on French politics and films.

She is also a regular commentator for The Guardian, The Independent On Sunday, The New Statesman and The Observer.

Reader Philip Fox

Producer Beaty Rubens

(repeat).

Agnes Poirier asks how Voltaire would view the debate in France about banning the burka.

ESSAY0420091105
ESSAY04Enlightenment Voices20091203

Series exploring the work of philosopher David Hume, one of the major figures in the Scottish Enlightenment.

In his lifetime, Hume was not only known for his philosophical works but also as a historian and essayist.

Alongside his writing, one of his last jobs was secretary to the British Embassy in Paris, where he was lionised by the intelligentsia as an architect of the Enlightenment.

Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University assesses Hume's originality of thought and his influence on later thinkers like Darwin.

Simon Blackburn on Hume's originality of thought and influence on thinkers such as Darwin.

ESSAY04Enlightenment Voices, Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 420091126

Series exploring the work of philosopher, writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Scholar Janet Todd traces the complex emotional and intellectual trajectory of Wollstonecraft's reactions to events during the French Revolution in 1789, and its impact on her hopes and wishes for change in her native England.

Reader: Tessa Nicholson.

Janet Todd traces Mary Wollstonecraft's reactions to the events of the French Revolution.

ESSAY04Enlightenment Voices, Robert Hooke, Hooke's Inventions2009100820101202

Series exploring the work of the scientific pioneer Robert Hooke.

Professor Lisa Jardine examines Hooke's inventions, explores how they were received at the time and how some are integral to the way we live now.

Hooke was at the forefront of invention in the 17th century.

As he and his fellow scientists went about their quest to 'know everything', Hooke was continually inventing new ways with machinery, telescopes, microscopes, watches and medicine.

Charles II took a great interest in many of his designs and some of his discoveries have lasted through the years and are critical to our lives today.

His 'Hooke joint' which he developed for carriages is now used in a rear-wheel drive car to connect the drive shaft to the transmission.

Lisa Jardine discusses how Robert Hooke's inventions were received in the 17th century.

ESSAY04Enlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire And Religion2010120120101125

The cataclysmic Lisbon earthquake of 1755 in which tens of thousands of people died is Professor Simon Blackburn's starting point for an examination of Voltaire's views on religion and belief.

The event occurred on November 1st, All Saints Day, which meant that the churches in one of the godliest cities in Catholic Europe were all packed while the brothels were relatively empty.

Where, Voltaire wondered, was divine providence in all this?

Simon Blackburn carefully explores not only Voltaire's coruscating views on the corrupt and powerful established church but also the complex question of his lingering faith.

Above all, he examines the practical effect of Voltaire's ideas, celebrating the role of the Enlightenment in replacing the altars and thrones of an older Europe with the largely secular constitutional democracies that followed.

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge.

Reader Philip Fox

Producer Beaty Rubens

(Repeat).

Professor Simon Blackburn examines Voltaire's views on religion and belief.

ESSAY04Enlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire And Religion *20091001

Series exploring the work of the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

The cataclysmic Lisbon earthquake of 1755, in which tens of thousands of people died, is the starting point of Professor Simon Blackburn, of Cambridge University's philopsophy department, as he examines Voltaire's views on religion and belief.

The event occurred on All Saints' Day - November 1st - which meant that the churches in one of the godliest cities in Catholic Europe were all packed, while the brothels were relatively empty.

Where, Voltaire wondered, was divine providence in all this?

Professor Blackburn explores not only Voltaire's coruscating views on the corrupt and powerful established Church, but also the complex question of his lingering faith.

Above all, he examines the practical effect of Voltaire's ideas, celebrating the role of the Enlightenment in replacing the altars and thrones of an older Europe with the largely secular constitutional democracies that followed.

Reader: Philip Fox.

Professor Simon Blackburn examines Voltaire's views on religion and belief.

ESSAY05 LASTEnlightenment Voices, Diderot, Part 520100122

Diderot experts Caroline Warman and Kate Tunstall join forces to introduce his most extraordinary work, D'Alembert's Dream".

Denis Diderot's publications range from his monumental Encyclopedie to his erotic novella, Indiscreet Jewels, but perhaps his most extraordinary work is D'Alembert's Dream.

It starts with Diderot's fellow encyclopedist, D'Alembert, challenging him to explain human life without making any reference to God or the soul or anything that isn't purely physical.

Caroline Warman and Kate Tunstall, both Diderot experts at the University of Oxford, take on the Dream in a dialogue of their own and playfully challenge the listener to grapple with this quintessentially Enlightenment subject themselves.

Caroline Warman and Kate Tunstall introduce Diderot's dialogue D'Alembert's Dream."

ESSAY05 LASTEnlightenment Voices, Robert Hooke, Hooke And The Great Fire Of London2009100920101203

Architectural historian Dr James Campbell focuses on Hooke's activities after the Great Fire of London.

Together with all his scientific commitments at the Royal Society, Hooke was employed as Christopher Wren's right hand man, the surveyor responsible for measuring out the new street-plan of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

He assesses Hookes achievements and contribution to the rebuilding of London.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

(Repeat).

James Campbell discusses Robert Hooke's activities after the Great Fire of London.

Series exploring the work of the scientific pioneer Robert Hooke.

James assesses Hookes achievements and contribution to the rebuilding of London.

ESSAY05 LASTEnlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire's Library And Legacy20091002

Series exploring the work of the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford, explores the legacy of this greatest of Enlightenment figures.

When Voltaire died in 1778 aged 84, he was the most famous writer in the world and his immortality was assured.

Nicholas recounts the extraordinary story of the removal of Voltaire's library of around 7,000 books from his chateau in France all the way to St Petersburg, where Catherine the Great planned to build a type of Voltaire theme park.

He explores Voltaire's celebrity status, both before and after his death, and goes on to discuss how his ideas about politics, religion and tolerance continue to resonate today.

Nicholas concludes with an illustration of how - in the true spirit of the Enlightenment - writers continue to debate with Voltaire and, in so doing, perpetuate his legacy.

Reader: Simon Russell Beale.

Professor Nicholas Cronk discusses Voltaire's legacy and his library.

ESSAY05 LASTEnlightenment Voices, Voltaire, Voltaire's Library And Legacy2010120820101126

When Voltaire died in 1778 at the grand old age of 84, he was the most famous writer in the world.

Whatever his doubts about the Christian afterlife, his own immortality was assured.

In this fifth and final Essay on Voltaire, Professor Nicholas Cronk explores the legacy of this greatest of Enlightenment figures.

He starts with the extraordinary story of the removal of Voltaire's library, book by book - and there were some seven thousand of them - from his chateau in France all the way to St Petersburg, where Catherine the Great planned to build a sort of Voltaire theme park.

He explores Voltaire's celebrity status, both before and after his death, and goes on to discuss how his ideas - about politics, about religion, about tolerance - continue to resonate today.

He concludes with a poignant illustration of how, in the true spirit of the Enlightenment, writers continue to debate with Voltaire and, in so doing, perpetuate his legacy.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford.

Reader Simon Russell Beale

Producer Beaty Rubens

(Repeat).

Professor Nicholas Cronk discusses Voltaire's legacy and his library.

ESSAY05 LASTFree Thinking 2010, New Histories Of The North East, A Landscape For Everyman20110323
ESSAY05 LASTKarachi Postcards, Departure, But First A Feast...20110323