Review of Berry, Essays on Hume, Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment

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Reflecting on his body of work, Christopher Berry admits that he had not ‘self-consciously provided or developed some unifying, overarching “big idea”’ regarding the Scottish enlightenment; rather he followed where the evidence led him (p. 23). That scholarly journey, which spans over fifty years, produced a ‘new Bryson’ in his Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment (1997) and, more recently, shed new light on social formations in The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment (2013). The innovative way in which Berry assembles his previously published essays with additional commentary as well as three original pieces in this volume best reflects the ‘Berry line’ that Scottish enlightenment thinkers were social scientists and that they advanced their modernist view of improvement as prominent actors within a cosmopolitan, commercial society. The survey of when he read or did not read foundational works on the intellectual history of Scottish philosophy in the introductory chapter shows the development of the ‘Berry line’ while the Scottish enlightenment took shape as a field of study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-152
Number of pages2
JournalScottish Historical Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


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