Professor Robert Darnton FBA
THE BRITISH ACADEMY LECTUREMore about the British Academy Lectures
The British Academy Lecture, delivered by Dr Mogens Hansen FBA, on 25 February 2010 (venue: The British Academy). The theory of the separation of powers between a legislature, an executive and a judiciary is the foundation of modern representative democracy. It was developed by Montesquieu and came to replace the older theory of the mixed constitution which goes back to Plato, Aristotle and Polybios, that there are three types of constitution: monarchy, oligarchy and democracy. When institutions from each of the three types are mixed, an interplay between the institutions emerges that affects all functions of state. Today Montesquieu's separation of powers is obsolete. The mixed constitution deserves to be revived as a corrective to the prevailing view that western states are pure democracies. Ancient political thought is remarkably modern or – rather – modern political thought has much to learn from the Greek and Roman political thinkers.
The British Academy Lectures, delivered by Professor Lord Renfrew FBA, on 26 October 2005. DNA studies show that the baby born into the world today would be difficult to distinguish from the child of our ancestor of 40,000 years ago. Yet the way of life has changed radically from the stone age hunter-gatherer to the modern citizen. What then are the processes which have led to the construction of the world in which we live, and to the achievements of humankind which define, in a sense, what it is to be human? The answer can only come from the material remains of the human experience over tens of millennia: that is the challenge of archaeology.