Edmund Burke and the Scottish enlightenment

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephen Brewer MacKinnon (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Robert Calhoon

Abstract: This study examines Edmund Burke's reliance upon the philosophical assumptions of the Scottish "Common Sense" school of critical realism. Scottish realism was articulated in the writings of Thomas Reid, Dugald Stewart and James Beattie, and constituted a significant part of the generally-accepted intellectual phenomenon of the Scottish Enlightenment, which reached its zenith in the last half of the eighteenth century. By identifying the various forms which Burke's Scottish connections took, this study seeks to narrow the gap between Burke studies and recent historiography of the Scottish Enlightenment. The Scottish Enlightenment is now seen as second only to the French Enlightenment as a formative influence upon the course of thought in eighteenth-century Europe. Older writings have established the "critical" nature of the Scottish Common Sense school and of the Scottish Enlightenment in general. A number of commentators have noted the philosophical similarity between the critical cast of the thought of the Scottish school and that of the contemporary critical idealism of Immanuel Kant. This study suggests that the historical and philosophical connection between Burke and the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as the philosophical similarity between Scottish and Kantian critical realism and idealism, together indicate a philosophical kinship between critical realism, critical idealism, and some of the assumptions in Burke s thought.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1977

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