Chapter

Newtonianism, Freethought, and Hume's Scottish Context

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110333.003.0004
Newtonianism, Freethought, and Hume's Scottish Context

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Hume's Treatise has its origins in the distinct climate and environment of Scottish intellectual life. The question arises, therefore, to what extent the main debate concerning religion and atheism—specifically as it concerns Clarke's (Newtonian) philosophy and the “atheism” of Hobbes, Spinoza and their followers—was of any particular significance in Scotland at this time. This chapter shows that these debates and controversies not only had a high profile in Scotland during this period, they were (hotly) debated and discussed in Hume's immediate context in the Borders area throughout the 1720s and 1730s—at the very time Hume was planning the Treatise and laying its foundations. A key figure throughout this period is Andrew Baxter, who was involved in a number of significant controversies with other influential Scottish philosophers at the time, including Kames (Home), Maclaurin, and Dudgeon.

Keywords: Andrew Baxter; William Dudgeon; Francis Hutcheson; Lord Kames (Henry Home); Colin Maclaurin; neu‐lights; Rankenian club; John Simson; vis inertiae; William Warburton

Chapter.  6529 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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