Friday, April 22, 2011

David Hume Philosophy Festival

Next week sees the 300th anniversary of the birth of David Hume, not only Scotland’s but undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest philosophers. Hume has been accorded many accolades, Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University for instance describing him as “Britain’s greatest philosopher and since Socrates the most loved anywhere” and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describing him as “the most important philosopher ever to write in English”.

Although born in Edinburgh, Hume was brought up and spent all his childhood years at Ninewells House near Chirnside in Berwickshire which he always regarded as his home. It is said he never lost his Borders’ accent.

He was born on 26th April 1711 under the Julian calendar, 7th May 1711 under the Gregorian calendar introduced in 1752. Accordingly perhaps not inappropriate to celebrate his birth somewhere between these two dates and this will be happening in grand fashion at Chirnside next Saturday (30th).

There will be a great deal to enjoy, learn and experience on the day and indeed beforehand and over the summer.

From next Tuesday 26th until the following Saturday there will be an exhibition in the Chirnside Community Centre entitled “The Life and Times of David Hume”.

The day itself will start at 10 o’clock with a talk by Fiona Houston, author of “The Garden Cottage Diaries, My Year in the Eighteenth Century” entitled “Life in Georgian Chirnside”.

At 11 o’clock a chance to view the performance of a play by the children of Chirnside Primary School written by drama teacher Eloner Crawford and entitled “Unanswerable Questions”.

Afterwards an opportunity to visit the exhibition, help raise money for some local charities while at the same time enjoying some Georgian food.

At 12.30 there will be the formal unveiling of a David Hume Commemorative plaque within the village, this very appropriately being carried out by the chief executive of Scottish Borders Council who just happens to share the same name as the philosopher.

Then at 2 00. p.m. a further unveiling this time of an information panel to mark the opening of the new David Hume Walk from Chirnside to Auchencrow. This will be followed by a short walk to Ninewells House Hume’s ancestral home for some welcome drinks.

At 3.15 in the Red Lion Hotel, Roderick Graham author of Hume’s highly acclaimed biography “The Great Infidel” will deliver a talk on "Hume, the Man and his Life”.

4.00 p.m. will see a discussion between two philosophers, Alasdair Richmond of Edinburgh University and Peter Millican of Oxford University on “David Hume: the Philosophy”. Much no doubt to ponder and to think on.

Afterwards at 4.45 p.m. the awarding of the David Hume Essay Prize.

The evening starts off at 6.00 p.m. with a Georgian banquet at nearby Paxton House followed by a tour of the House. Tickets for this eventcost £22 but may be hard by come by.

At 7.30 there will be a further talk by Dr. Peter Millican who will explore how the Borders shaped Hume’s philosophy and to round off the day at 8.45 Denise Walton will talk on Hume ‘s contemporary and near neighbour “James Hutton, Father of Geology”.

A very full day and as one muses and philosophizes, particularly if the current very warm weather continues, a liquid refreshment might well be appropriate. To mark the anniversary a new beer has been brewed by Hadrian and Border entitled entirely appropriately “Enlightenment Ale” which will be available in hostelries locally. CHEERS!

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