Virtue, Learning, and the Scottish Enlightenment: Ideas of Scholarship in Early Modern History

Synopsis

This is a reassessment of the moral and theological foundations of modern Europe. It challenges a number of deeply rooted assumptions about the basis of both Scottish culture and of Enlightenments in general. It argues that the formidable dual influences of humanism and Calvinism forced a discussion about the essentially moral function of scholarship and learning to the very centre of intellectual debate in early modern Scotland, and that this in turn led to the growth of an "enlightened" community amongst the Scottish literati. As such, the text is a direct challenge to conventional accounts of the Scottish Enlightenment as an unanticipated, short-lived explosion of ideas.