Academy of Ideas

Three snapshots of the Age of Enlightenment

September 9, 2016

Podcast: Three short lectures on Isaac Newton, John Milton and Enlightenment coffee houses and salons

On June 23rd the Institute of Ideas held a University in One Day event for young people at the Telegraph Festival of Education on the theme of the Enlightenment. We asked three speakers to give us provocations on what they believed were the most important locomotives of Enlightenment thought. In this week’s podcast Gareth Sturdy makes the case for Isaac Newton’s scientific method as a central foundation of the Enlightenment by redefining man’s relationship to nature. Dr. Shirley Dent argues for John Milton’s Areopagitica as a critical tract underpinning many of the freedoms we enjoy today. And Jacob Reynolds explains how the salons of France and coffee houses of Britain were the forums where the ideas of the Enlightenment were disseminated and discussed by the emerging public to change the world forever.


Gareth Sturdy
project lead, The Physics Factory; teacher, East London Science School

Dr Shirley Dent
author, Radical Blake; communications specialist; editor,

Jacob Reynolds
consultant, SHM Productions; BPhil in Philosophy, St Cross College, Oxford; convenor, Academy in One Day at Battle of Ideas festival

Claire Fox
director, Institute of Ideas; panelist, BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze