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Enlightenment Series: Freedom to Use Your Own Intelligence


Mon 6 Nov 2017, 6:00pm–7:30pm

Where: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Central & CBD, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Members - Royal Society & SMSA: $15.00
  • Non-Members: $20.00
  • Additional fees may apply

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Have you ever pondered over the observation that in little more than a century, a gaol established in Sydney Cove with 1000 souls joined the International stage as an independent Federated nation of in excess of three million—an unprecedented event in the history of man!

This presentation explores the theme that the convict settlement was the “perfect storm” to test the idea that the Enlightenment—with its roots in late Middle Age Europe, and finding its expression in the Laws of Newton and the logic of Locke—created a confidence and capacity for humanity to achieve a new potential.

Professor Robert Clancy AM FRS (N) explores firstly, the influence of the dominant contemporary ideas in science as introduced by James Cook and Joseph Banks, and how this played out in a young Australia in its impact on patterns of scientific development. Secondly, the self-belief and “have go” mentality reflecting John Locke’s optimistic view of men and women forced to face and control extraordinary challenges not just to survive, but to create a new and independent society, based on science and the goodness of man.

The question today is “have we lost that spirit of the Enlightenment to reactive conservatism?”

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