When Was the Scottish Enlightenment?

Cairns Craig

in Intending Scotland

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637133
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653478 | DOI:
When Was the Scottish Enlightenment?

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This chapter determines why it took till the 1970s for W. R. Scott's notion of a Scottish Enlightenment to gain general acknowledgment and why, when that acknowledgment did come, it was in the context of an insistence on the failure of Scotland's nineteenth-century culture. It opines that the reconciliation of the Scottish philosophical tradition that paved the way, in W. R. Scott's work, for the concept of the Scottish Enlightenment could not be productive in a Scottish context. The investment in the Scots language continued to be central to Scottish cultural self-perception, which was why English and American historians were so prominent in early discussions of the Scottish Enlightenment. In effect, the Enlightenment in Scotland could only become the Scottish Enlightenment when the importance of Burns and Scott came to rest not on their contribution to a literature in Scots but on their continuation of fundamental themes in the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Keywords: W. R. Scott; Scottish Enlightenment; Scots language; American historians; Burns

Chapter.  27863 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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