Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment

Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 12:94-109 (1978)
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The term ‘Scottish Enlightenment’ annoys some Scottish historians, because to them it seems to suggest that a state of unenlightenment prevailed in Scotland before the mideighteenth century, but ‘enlightenment’ when used by the historian of ideas is simply a technical term to describe certain aspects of eighteenth-century thought. The trouble is in defining precisely what aspects of eighteenth-century thought it is meant to describe. Different people study the eighteenth century Scottish thinkers for different reasons; for Professor Pocock, for example, they belong to the tradition of ‘civic humanism’ and constitute one of his Machiavellian moments. But they are more widely known nowadays for the modernity and sophistication of their social theory.



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