NJ ONE of Europe’s leading contemporary philosophers has criticized the decision by the University of Edinburgh to rename its David Hume Tower after students raised concerns about the giant Scottish Enlightenment remarks made in the race.
Professor Anthony Grayling told The National that he supports the Black Lives Matters movement and is strongly against racism, but that he nevertheless rejected the university’s decision to remove the name of the eighteenth-century Scottish thinker from the building.
Grayling described Hume as one of the great figures in the history of philosophy, who should be rightly remembered.
He suggested that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, the founder of modern Western research, and Thomas Jefferson, the lead author of the American Declaration of Independence, would not exceed the standard set by Edinburgh students.
“I strongly support the Black Lives Matter movement and strongly oppose racism and all forms of discrimination and at the same time I deplore the decision of the University of Edinburgh to cease knowing one of the great figures in the history of philosophy,” he said.
“These are not unstable positions … Slaves deserve a historic challenge. They deserve their statues destroyed.
“Everyone else – everyone who lived through thousands of years of slavery, a norm in almost all societies – could be considered collaborators if they did not actively oppose it. So will we erase the pure history and start from the beginning with an empty memory of the past, extending even the memory of slavery itself so that we do not know what to fight against now and how to prevent it in the future?
“From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson we would have to empty them all. Let’s devalue the bad things people did, but retain some sense of the alloy that is human history, its tragedy and horror, as well as the best things we can get from it. ”
It turned out over the weekend that the David Hume Tower will now be called 40 George Square, following a petition from students. Hume, a globally known thinker, studied at university and was one of the leading figures in the Scottish Enlightenment.
The move came after Dr. Felix Waldmann of Cambridge University found a letter Hume wrote in 1766 asking his protector, Lord Hertford, to buy a plantation in Grenada.
Grayling’s intervention follows criticism from leading historian Sir Tom Devine, a Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh. Devine said: “The current director of the University of Edinburgh [Peter Mathieson] one must hang one’s head from absolute shame. ”
The university has said about Hume’s comments on the race, “although it was not unusual at the time, it rightly causes concern today”.
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