Dr Spyridon Tegos

Daiches-Manning Fellow

Home institution: University of Crete
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Dates: January - March 2017

Project: 

Courtoisie without court?

ETIQUETTE, MIDDLE CLASS MANNERS AND EUROPEAN CIVILITY IN DAVID HUME AND ADAM SMITH

This project focuses on three relatively neglected axis in David Hume and Adam Smith scholarship: a) the extent to which nouveaux riches or simply beneficiaries of mildly rising incomes due to the economic prosperity of Britain’s and France’s commercial and imperial expansion (18th-early19th centuries) had to pay the psychological and moral costs of the relative acceleration of upward social mobility b) the social “sadism” of the elites that despise the social newcomers: the abandonment of chunks of elite lifestyle and language when it is democratized beyond a certain threshold has not been sufficiently studied c) the intense debate about standards of taste and fashion, especially in the context of Scottish enlightenment, highlights  cultural and moral aspects that are often downplayed by comparative social and political theorists. In this paper, the interrelatedness of these three aspects will be brought to the fore through a comparative analysis of David Hume’s and Adam Smith’s respective positions regarding middle class manners and their importance for modern commerce, liberty and political constitutions.

Biographical Note: Dr Spyridon Tegos is assistant professor of Early Modern Philosophy at The University of Crete, Greece. He holds a Ph.D. on ‘The Concept of Social Sentiments (friendship, sympathy, compassion) in Early Modern Political Philosophy’ (Paris X-Nanterre, 2002, sup. Etienne Balibar) and his research in the history of moral and political philosophy (Scottish and French Enlightenment) has appeared in French as well as in British, Italian and Greek academic journals and edited volumes. He is currently preparing a book on the French sources - early modern theatre, belles-lettres - of Scottish Enlightenment (David Hume, Adam Smith) regarding the social and political relevance of “middling rank” (middle class) manners and its aftermath in the French liberal tradition (Mme de Staël, Alexis de Tocqueville).