The Scottish Enlightenment was a period of intellectual and scientific progress, in a country previously considered to be marginal to the European intellectual scene. Yet the enlightenment was not about politeness or civic humanism, but something more basic - the making of an improved society which could compete in every way in a rapidly changing world. David Hume, writing in 1752, commented that 'industry, knowledge and humanity are linked together by an indissoluble chain'. Collectively this volume of essays embraces many of the topics which Hume included under 'industry, knowledge and humanity': from the European Enlightenment and the Scots relation to it, to Scottish social history and its relation to religion, science and medicine. Overarching themes of what it meant to be enlightened in the eighteenth century are considered alongside more specific studies of notable figures of the period, such as Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, and David Hume, and the training and number of Scottish medical students. Together, the volume provides an opportunity to step back and reconsider the Scottish Enlightenment in its broader context and to consider what new directions this field of study might take.
Roger L. Emerson is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
'It is difficult to find a book on the Scottish Enlightenment that does not cite the work of Roger Emerson. Over the past three decades he has been an indefatigable archaeologist of the social frameworks that facilitated the ferment of knowledge not only in Scotland, but in all of Great Britain and its colonies. This book continues in the tradition of this fine corpus of scholarship.' ISIS 'Overall, Emerson, an eminent and respected scholar, has produced a valuable and informative contribution to the Enlightenment canon.' Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies 'Emerson’s compressed and pithy style packs immense substance into a modest number of pages. Some essays are rich in quantitative detail, others in pointed sententiae that will provoke and reward thoughtful consideration.' Hume Studies