The Rise of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment

By Tatsuya Sakamoto; Hideo Tanaka | Go to book overview

12

Dugald Stewart at the final stage of the Scottish Enlightenment: natural jurisprudence, political economy and the science of politics

Hisashi Shinohara

The Golden Age of the Scottish Enlightenment ended with the death of Adam Smith in 1790 and the publication of the last edition of his Theory of Moral Sentiments in the same year. Thereafter the Enlightenment entered a period of recapitulation, adaptation, and evaluation of the various ideas that had been proposed and developed. One of the representative figures of this period of consolidation was Dugald Stewart (1753-1828), Professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He published, first of all, the fundamental part of his system of moral philosophy as Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind in 1792 and then the guideline of his whole system as Outlines of Moral Philosophy in 1793. In the same year he read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh an 'Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith'. He continued what may be termed a kind of long-running memorial lecture in 1796 and again in 1802 by reading Accounts of the Life and Writings of two other great figures of the Enlightenment, namely William Robertson (1721-90), the leader of the Moderate party of the Church of Scotland, and Thomas Reid (1710-96), the father of the Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense. These lectures he delivered in his forties. In his sixties he contributed a 'Dissertation', part I (1816) and II (1821), exhibiting 'A General View of the Progress of Metaphysical, Ethical, and Political Philosophy, since the Revival of Letters in Europe' to the Supplement to the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Stewart 1816-21), and tried to describe the Scottish contribution to the history of philosophy in Europe, and to offer 'a patriotic defence of the Scottish philosophical tradition' (Wood 2000:6 and passim). This Dissertation, dealing, despite its general title, only with the progress of metaphysics or 'the philosophy of the human mind', was unfortunately unfinished, but interestingly, or rather oddly enough, he informed the reader that he limited the sphere of political philosophy to that of political economy. 1

The three spheres of Metaphysics, Ethics and Politics referred to in the title of the 'Dissertation' correspond to the tripartite division of Stewart's system of moral philosophy into the fields of 'Intellectual Powers of Man',

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