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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Undergraduate Course: The Scottish Enlightenment in Context (LLLI10001)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis Edinburgh International Summer School (EISS) course examines the philosophy, ethics, social and political thought, historiography, medical science, aesthetics, literature, and religious thinking of the period of the Scottish Enlightenment. It also considers the influence of Scottish thinking on America, and the circumstances which led to the eclipse of Enlightenment thinking.
Course description 1. Philosophy - the 'science of man' and its centrality in Scottish Enlightenment thought.

2. Ethics - moral sense theory, sympathy, and the roles of self-interest and benevolence.

3. Social Theory - man as a social being, and the development over time of social institutions.

4. Historiography - the Enlightenment notion of progress, and the Whig conception of history. Conjectural history; stadial theory; and comparative history.

5. Medicine - the significance of the nervous system in eighteenth century medical thinking, and its association with philosophical notions of sensibility and sympathy.

6. Aesthetics - theories of art and beauty, and the roles of sensibility and sympathy.

7. Literature - the novel as an Enlightenment text: Tobias Smollett┐s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, and Henry MacKenzie┐s The Man of Feeling. Robert Burns┐ enlightened poetry.

8. Religion - the religious controversies of the period: Hume┐s scepticism, and the role of Moderates within the Kirk.

9. The Scottish Enlightenment and America - the influence of the Scottish literati on American education and American politics.

10. The End of the Scottish Enlightenment - critics of Enlightenment within Scotland, and the eclipse of the Enlightenment in Scotland┐s universities.

The course aims to introduce students to the central themes, issues and theories of the Scottish Enlightenment. There will be a particular emphasis on the enduring relevance of the Enlightenment. Students will examine current approaches to the Scottish Enlightenment, and areas of contemporary debate among scholars. The course also aims to enhance students┐ critical, discursive and analytical skills.

The course is interdisciplinary: thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith studied and wrote on a wide range of academic disciplines, on the basis that each discipline is apt to shed explanatory light on the others. This is a traditional Scottish approach to study, which predates the Scottish Enlightenment - and it is the approach which this course will adopt. Philosophy was the central discipline of the Scottish Enlightenment - and it will similarly be central to our studies.

There will be the opportunity for guided tours of museums and galleries, as well as locations in Edinburgh which relate to the period of the Scottish Enlightenment. A philosophical walking tour of Edinburgh will be arranged.

Students will complete a 1500-word source analysis, and a 2500-word essay. There will be a choice of disciplines for each assessment component.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Course text(s)
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Display knowledge and understanding of the key themes, issues and ideas associated with the Scottish Enlightenment.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the cultural and intellectual legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the most recent critical thinking on the Scottish Enlightenment, and areas of continuing debate.
  4. Exhibit enhanced critical, discursive and analytical skills, gained through class participation and completion of written assessments.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of the intellectual, cultural and historical significance of Edinburgh and of Scotland.
Reading List
Indicative reading list
Broadie, A., 1997. The Scottish Enlightenment ┐ An Anthology. Edinburgh: Canongate
Broadie, A., 2003. The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry:
Provide clear, precise and valid arguments concerning the interpretation of texts, and identify and explain issues which these texts present.
Make effective use both of primary and of secondary texts to advance a given interpretation and/ or argument.
Make effective use of library and electronic resources in preparing and researching the final essay.
Demonstrate sensitivity to the scope for differing understandings of a given text over time.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy:
Ability to read texts at an appropriate level, with a critical understanding of the values, assumptions and attitudes which motivate the author.
Ability to work independently.

Communication Skills:
Communicate effectively, with an appropriate level of scholarly sophistication and objectivity.
Special Arrangements University of Edinburgh Students will not receive credit for this course.
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsScottish Enlightenment Philosophy Ethics Social and Political Thought Historiography Medicine Natura
Course organiserDr John Gordon
Tel: (0131 6)50 4400
Course secretary
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