Scottish philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-PLAY3588-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2015
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

The place to begin is the article on Enlightenment, Scottish. It alerts you to the fact that there was rather more to Scottish philosophy in the eighteenth century than you might expect. Philosophy then and there was a more capacious subject than it is here and now. This is obvious also from an article that fills in more of the background: Human Nature, Science of, in the 18th Century.

Then move on to the four great figures of 18th-century Scottish philosophy, beginning with Hutcheson, Francis. Hutcheson was important to all Scottish philosophers of the 18th century, but for a figure who was just as influential, see Butler, Joseph. The huge importance of Hume, David goes without saying. Nobody agreed with Hume, but disagreements with him produced some truly great philosophy, especially as written by Smith, Adam and Reid, Thomas.

There was, however, much more to the Scottish Enlightenment than the big names. For a sense of the sheer variety of ideas and arguments produced in Scotland in the 18th century, see Aberdeen Philosophical Society, Beattie, James, Blair, Hugh, Carmichael, George, Home, Henry (Lord Kames), Oswald, James, Stewart, Dugald, and Turnbull, George. These shorter articles introduce you to the brilliant intellectual conversations that make the Scottish Enlightenment so attractive as a field of historico-philosophical study.

Citing this article:
Harris, James. Scottish philosophy, 2015, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-PLAY3588-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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