Talk:Scottish Enlightenment

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Education, poverty[edit]

Eh? "Most backword country in Europe" ? During that time Scotland, with a school and a teacher in every parish, had the highest literacy rates of any country in Europe. That is why the "enlightenment" was able to take place. -- Anonymous —Preceding unsigned comment added by 62.252.128.7 (talkcontribs) 23:14, 18 July 2003 (UTC)

Scotland's economic situation has always been exaggerated by the English in order to make us feel grateful for their miserable union. But common sense (in short supply south of the border)would tell you the New Town of Edinburgh was not built on pennies; the sheer scale of our ruined abbeys and palaces like Linlithgow (destroyed by jealous English scum) are further concrete proof that we were far from poverty-striken. As for this brainless numptie Derek Ross, he needs to stop making spurious comments on subjects about which he clearly knows nothing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 79.78.254.144 (talk) 01:11, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Absolutely agreed. Scotland was noted as "the poorest country in Europe" at that time, not "the most backward". -- Derek Ross | Talk 14:36, 30 July 2004 (UTC)
Point 1) The first education Act in modern Europe with any measure of cumpulsion was the Scottish Education Act of 1496, the second one in 1696 ensured provision of education in every parish. It is not clear from the article that the educational provision mentioned was Scottish only and PRE the Union of 1707. By contrast England had and continued to have, for over a hundred years, one of the poorest educational records in Europe.
Point 2) That Scotland was poor at the time of Union is beyond doubt, however, the existence of a much larger hostile nation on its border had more than a little to do with that. Naval blockades, trade embargos and tariffs, the Alien Act, the refusal to help the Darien Colony, the false information supplied by the English navy regarding the feasibility of the Darien scheme, the announcement that any trade done with Scotland would be regarded as an 'act of War'. Also Scotland was not always poor before the Union.
Point 3) The notion that Scotland's record of World class intellectual contribution began with the Union may be commonly believed in the chattering class meeting places of Glasgow or Edinburgh, but it is completely wrong. Duns Scotus in theology/philosophy, The long line of Makaris (from whose flour Chaucer feasted), Napier. The astonishing Gregory family, especially James Gregory who invented the reflecting telescope, and developed the calculus both acredited to Newton. He also was the first to derive a proof of the calculus and to devise what later would be called Taylor's series. He was the first to define a series for calculating PI, attributed to Leibniz and he was the first to recognise diffraction gratin spectra. That these facts are not at all well known does not change their existence. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.17.149.4 (talkcontribs) 18:03, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes Scotland may well have suffered from poverty but it certainly was not the poorest country in Western Europe. Ireland was easily the poorest out of the three kingdoms of the British Isles. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.131.177.179 (talkcontribs) 14:54, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Ruddiman[edit]

Would Thomas Ruddiman be properly considered a Scottish Enlightenment figure? --Dpr 08:08, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I would think so.Fenton Robb 10:08, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

One paper sees it in terms of "three generations, overlapping and closely related," with Ruddiman among the early precursor figures, and a bibliography says his publications place him in it. (Ruddiman lived 1674-1757; the span of the Scottish Enlightment is given variously as 1740s-1800, 1730-1800, etc.) — Athaenara 06:30, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

List of Scottish Enlightenment philsophers and other writers[edit]

Would it be appropriate to add to this article a section listing the various philosophers and other writers who comprise the Scottish Enlightenment? If so, could someone who knows this subject (I don't) essay the task? I could start by clicking on "what links here" and finding articles about persons so identified, but I cannot add others, if any exist. Michael Hardy 19:15, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

I added rudimentary descriptions and a baker's dozen or so more listees this morning. — Athaenara 00:05, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

John Locke[edit]

Firslty sorry about the poor formating im new to this, but i've noticed that in the article John Locke is listed as a scotish enlightenment figure, to my knowledge he was wholely anglo-saxon being born outside of bristol, allthough he probally had quite a lot of influence on scotlish liberal thinkers, i think its unfair to consider him a member of the scotish enlightenment. - Thefranzkafkafront 19:25, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Locke lived (1632-1704) elsewhere some two generations before the Scottish Enlightenment and was not a member of it. A statement in the Locke article, that his writings "along with those of many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers" influenced the American Revolution, clearly places him outside the SE as well. I have removed Locke from the list in the SE article; I will be interested to learn what SE thinkers considered his role, if any, to have been. — Athaenara 03:28, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Leaving John Locke out of a discussion of Scottish Enlightenment is simply wrong! His writings influenced many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers. And the whine below about him as "wholely anglo-saxon" is just plainly bigoted. His racial background had no bearing on the interest that thinkers of this period had in his writings. --Veralto (talk) 19:38, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Inaccuracy[edit]

Urgh. After finding this paragraph, I wonder about the rest of this article.

"The first major figure of the Scottish Enlightenment was Francis Hutcheson, who held the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1729 to 1746. A moral philosopher with alternatives to the ideas of Thomas Hobbes, he founded one of the major branches of Scottish thinking, and opposed Hobbes' disciple David Hume. Hutcheson's major contribution to world thought was the utilitarian and consequentialist principle that virtue is that which brought the greatest good to the most people."

To some extent, David Hume was utilitarian as well. He was certainly NOT a disciple of Hobbes. I've cut out the sections which give this impression.--Nydas(Talk) 09:14, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Overemphasis on Hume[edit]

The overemphasis on Hume, especially the outrageous claim that he was "largely responsible for giving the Scottish Enlightenment its practical hue," is a very obvious problem. Even a merely cursory scan of the still incomplete list of Edinburgh luminaries who included chemists, botanists, geologists, farmers, engineers, etc. reveals that the claim simply isn't true. — Athaenara 08:34, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Consequentialist inconsistency[edit]

Slightly strange that this article says Hutcheson, as the first enlightend Scot, invented the consequentialist principle, but the Consequentialism article makes no mention of Hutcheson. Will add this to that discussion too. And add Hutcheson to that page somehow. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bob Stein - VisiBone (talkcontribs) 13:23, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Image[edit]

Could we have a group picture (these people were a close group, didn't they come together for some social act?)? Or some collective work or meeting place or monument representing them? --84.20.17.84 08:52, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Problem is, there weren't that many cameras around in those days :p Tpacw (talk) 16:50, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Section re Act of Union[edit]

After the Act of Union 1707 is very muddled and poorly cited. Both its paragraphs are jumbles. NoNonsenseHumJock (talk) 17:24, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Thomas Carlyle? Doesn't he deserve mention here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.12.126.90 (talk) 22:04, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

This is about the 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment period. Thomas Carlyle was born in 1795, with his most early notable writings in the 1820's, making him a 19th century writer. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mediatech492 (talkcontribs) 22:33, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Weblink[edit]

I can't see what the New School for Social Research has to do with Scottish Enlightenment. It seems that there is no such "introduction". The link is wrong (mayme it was right centuries ago... ;) ) --13Peewit (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:23, 28 March 2012 (UTC).

Clean up[edit]

I am thinking medium term about a clean up and expansion of this article, providing sources and correcting errors, removing repetition etc, but also probably a reorganisation and expansion. I think it would be best to have the listed people mentioned in the text and either remove the list or make it into a list article. I should also say I am not a fan of undigested long quotes in Wikipedia articles. I had in mind splitting the sections after the introductory into perhaps three main areas: Philosophy, Economics and Science. There remains an issue over what to do with the cultural stuff. There were obviously big changes in art, music and architecture, etc., but we don't tend to think in terms of Enlightenment art, music and architecture in the way we do for movements like the Renaissance - so perhaps one general section that mentions these, rather than a major sub-heading for each? Any views or suggestions for subjects that should be here, but which I missed are welcome.--SabreBD (talk) 09:21, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Reason[edit]

The introduction is very misleading from the point of view of any summation of the Scottish Enlightenment's outlook that I've ever seen. Smith, for instance, is scathing about the over-valorisation, as he sees it, of reason that leads to government intervention, supposedly directed towards the well-being of the people. His point is that if people are left alone from the dictates of a universal reason, he/she will be better off. Hume, also, is famous for approximately the phrase: "man isn't rational, he is rationalising." That is, that reason is only a tool used by man to secure a priori desires, rather than a route to a true-for-all-people-at-all-times deduction. Moreover, the difference between the Scottish and general Enlightenment is not made at all clear; to me, it appears that the description, particularly the association with rationalism, which is much more complex than described here, is more in line with continental thought. Descartes had been removed from the Scottish University curriculum some years previously (see Berry, Social Theory of the SE). Bacon and his materialism/empiricism was much more in vogue (hence the "Baconian project"). In all, this is a very poor article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 144.124.129.148 (talk) 20:19, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

I am glad to see I am not the only one who feels this way. In the Intro,after all the emphasis on reason and rationalism, even to the point of saying that the SE is more rationalistic than the continental, there is a mention that the Scottish were more empirical. I remember in Philosophy 1 that Rationalism and Empiricism are NOT the same thing, and in fact have serious differences, as the previous writer details. This article is misleading if this is not cleared up.Beau in NC (talk) 14:34, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

More further reading[edit]

I think that I. Hont and M. Ignatieff Wealth and Virtue: the Shaping of Classical and Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge UP, Cambridge 1983) may be interesting for those who read this article. --13Peewit (talk) 07:30, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Formatting problems[edit]

The article has format problems.

The thing about a history of scotland displays on top of the article's content.

108.219.39.17 (talk) 16:44, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for spotting this. Not sure why the last edit did that, but I reverted it.--SabreBD (talk) 17:00, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

The list of major figures[edit]

Having started trying to expand this article I am unsure as to what exactly to do with the list of major figures (currently at the foot of the article). It seems clear to me that more about the individuals, explaining their roles, should be built into the main text and I will be trying to do that over the next few weeks, but what do we do with the list once (or as) that is done? We could remove it on the grounds that it is no longer needed; keep it because it provides a useful means of reference; or move it to its own article with a "see also" link here. Any thoughts are welcome.--SabreBD (talk) 08:14, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

A list here will be very useful to readers--they will explore the names and perhaps focus on one or two they would otherwise not know about. The list also will give an immediate impression of the wide range of the Scottish Enlightenment. Rjensen (talk) 08:30, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

Benjamin Franklin[edit]

Why is Benjamin Franklin in the list of Key Figures? He may have corresponded with some well known Scottish figures, but beyond that what special influence did he have on Scottish Enlightenment to be listed as a key figure? He was born in Boston; his father was English, not Scots, so he didn't have a Scottish family background. --NoahSpurrier (talk) 18:41, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

He did visit Scotland and met with most of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. However, not a Scot.--SabreBD (talk) 19:54, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

John and William Hunter[edit]

Although the Hunters were Scots--and William Hunter's bequest to the University of Glasgow provided a useful teaching collection, both brothers made their careers as teachers in London, not in Scotland. William was only in Edinburgh for about a year as a student; John's medical education was obtained in England. Both died in England after spending most of their lives there. Thus, they did nothing "to make Edinburgh a major centre of medical teaching and research."71.59.243.146 (talk) 23:17, 28 September 2014 (UTC) Margaret DeLacy

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