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The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment

by R.H. Campbell

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ISBN: 9781788854221
Published: 24 Nov 2003
Format: E-Book
Extent: 300
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: John Donald
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About the Book

In the first part of the volume are collected six essays which comment on mainly institutional matters: the merchant community, the universities and the study of science and medicine. Two important themes emerge from these studies; firstly the significant role played by remarkable and learned individuals such as Andrew Melville and George Drummond in the Enlightenment. Secondly, the beginnings of interest in the political, scientific and economic ideas that were to shape Scotland's golden age are traced to the late seventeenth century. These essays then collectively and firmly reject Trevor-Roper's thesis that 'at the end of the seventeenth century, Scotland was a by-word for irredeemable poverty, social backwardness, political faction. The universities were the unreformed seminaries of a fanatical clergy.' The second part of the volume has a narrower focus, and the essays presented here show how developments in science and philosophy were used to question theological dogma, in particular how the claims of reason were maintained as a challenge to a theology of revelation.

The collection ends with a series of essays exploring the definition and defence of the principles of natural law by means of appeal to reason, sentiment and experience. This is a stimulating and persuasive collection of essays on an important and attractive era in Scotland's cultural history.