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IAS Visiting Fellow: Dr Roger Smith Events

The Centre welcomed Dr Roger Smith as an IAS Visiting Fellow - 28 November to 9 December 2011.

Please see below details of events:

Tues 29 November

Internal - Reading Group

'Evolution, human agency, and the late Victorians‘ (internal only)

Tues 29 November

Public Lecture

'Free Will in History and Contemporary Society'

Thurs 1 December

Internal - Postgraduate Seminar

'Reflexivity and the history of psychiatric knowledge: some reflections' (internal only)

Tues 6 December

Open to all - Research Seminar -

'Why the history of human sciences matters to medicine'

Fri 9 December Open to all - Symposium

'Free Will in the Past and Today'



Dr Roger Smith is one of the world’s most respected scholars in the area of history and philosophy of science and a leading expert in the history of the mind and brain, of psychology and psychiatry. Reader Emeritus in the History of Science from Lancaster University, Smith is currently Associate Fellow at the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

Among Smith’s many publications is Trial by Medicine: Insanity and Responsibility in Victorian Trials (1981); a history of the insanity defence in Britain in the nineteenth century. Inhibition: History and Meaning in the Sciences of Mind and Brain (1992) investigates the history of leading metaphors in the brain sciences. His The Fontana History of the Human Sciences (1997) is a so far unrivalled philosophical and historical synthesis of the sciences of human nature since the Renaissance. As the founding associate editor of the Journal History of the Human Sciences and the past President of The European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, Smith has been playing an overall decisive role in directing and shaping the discipline of history and philosophy of science over the last three decades.

His last monograph, Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature (2007) and his current book project Free Will: The Late Victorians on Body, Mind, Morals and History stand at the centre of his visit to the IAS. In Being Human, Smith provides major new insights into the nature and history of the human sciences and their relationship to the natural sciences, the scientific status of inquiry, and the importance of history for understanding the complex relations among the natural, social science and the humanities in our own times. In Free Will he focuses on the important issue of the possibility (or impossibility) of human freedom. The book tackles ‘free will’ from the perspective of both nineteenth-century philosophy and history. It is a major intellectual and cultural study of the Victorian responses to the implications of natural science knowledge and encompasses the areas of physiology and medicine, psychology, philosophy, social sciences and history. The book also draws striking parallels with contemporary debates about evolutionary neuroscience, which are currently seizing scientific and public imagination.