Introduction to Scottish Philosophy

A historical overview of Scottish philosophy, from the 13th century to the present day, covering medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and 19th and 20th century Scottish thought. This course will include a walking tour of sites of philosophical significance in central Edinburgh.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Outline the arguments of representative thinkers such as Duns Scotus, Ireland, Hume, Ferrier and Davie;
  • Distinguish between medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and 19th/20th century philosphy;
  • Explain the wider social and cultural significance of Scottish philosophy.

Introduction to Scottish Philosophy

Room G37, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road and Calton Hill
Start date
2.5 days
Day(s) and Times(s)
Mon 17 - Wed 19 July, Day 1 & 2 from 10.00am – 3.00pm, Day 3 from 10am – 12pm
John Gordon
Room G37, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road and Calton Hill
Time of Day
  • Medieval Scottish Philosophy - Michael Scot and the Toledo connection; Duns Scotus on the employment of philosophy in a theological context.
  • The Scottish Renaissance and Reformation. - John Ireland's Mirror of Wisdom; the importance of John Mair.
  • The Enlightenment (1) - The origins of the Scottish Enlightenment, and David Hume's science of man.
  • The Enlightenment (2) - Enlightenment social theory; Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiment.
  • Philosophical Walking Tour - A walking tour of some of the key sights in central Edinburgh related to eighteenth and nineteenth-century Scottish thought.
  • Scottish Philosophy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - The importance of James Ferrier; Davie's Democratic Intellect.

The walking tour will be conducted at a leisurely pace and is expected to last two hours.

Extracts will be posted to the tutor’s website. Classes will consist of tutor-led discussion of these extracts and their broader significance.

Core Readings

There is no need to buy the below texts. Key extracts from each will be posted to the tutor’s website.

Scotus, John Duns, 1987. Philosophical Writings. Translated from Latin by Allan Wolter, O.F.M. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Irlandia, Johannes de. 1965. The Meroure of Wysdome. Edinburgh: Blackwood.
Broadie, Alexander. ed., 1997. The Scottish Enlightenment – An Anthology. Edinburgh: Canongate.
Davie, George. 1961. The Democratic Intellect – Scotland and her Universities in the Nineteenth Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Class Handouts

Handouts/ summaries will be provided.

If you feel you have specific requirements to enable you to study with us, please contact our Student Support Team by email or by phone 0131 650 4400 to arrange a confidential discussion. Giving us this information will enable us to make arrangements to meet your requirements for studying in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010.