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The Secular Enlightenment$
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Margaret C. Jacob

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161327

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161327.001.0001

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The Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh

The Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh

(p.124) 5 The Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh
The Secular Enlightenment

Margaret C. Jacob

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses how the eighteenth century in Scotland witnessed a secular Enlightenment different from those found in Paris or London. For one thing, size mattered. The largest city in Scotland in 1700, Edinburgh, contained probably 40,000 people. It is much harder to police thought and behavior in cities with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, such as London, Amsterdam, and Paris. Scotland was also far more rural than either England or the Dutch Republic. In a city like Edinburgh, the educated elite, among whom one might reasonably expect new ideas to germinate and take hold, can best be described as led by presbyterian clergy and university professors marked by “an extraordinarily high degree of inbreeding and clannishness.” The social cohesiveness of the urban elite with its strong ties to the landed gave Scotland a distinctiveness all its own.

Keywords:   Scotland, secular Enlightenment, Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh, educated elite, presbyterian clergy, university professors, urban elite

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