Scotland's Migrant Philosophers and the History of Scottish Philosophy

Cairns Craig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The history of Scottish philosophy in the nineteenth century is written by migrant philosophers attempting to use the Scottish tradition as the foundation for philosophy in their new homelands. In the accounts of John Clark Murray (Canada), James McCosh (the United States) and Henry Laurie (Australia), different evaluations are made of the continuing relevance of the Scottish Common Sense School, but all are committed Christians for whom David Hume cannot be part of a Scottish tradition. As a result, none of these accounts gives any suggestion of there having been a 'Scottish Enlightenment'. That concept was only made possible by the radical reinterpretation of Hume by Norman Kemp Smith, which linked his philosophy to Hutcheson and dismissed his opposition to Reid. The subsequent emergence of 'the Scottish Enlightenment' eclipsed nineteenth-century Scottish 'idealism', shaped by Edward Caird, which Murray, Laurie and Kemp Smith had regarded as the foundation of their own philosophies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-692
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Henry Laurie
  • James McCosh
  • John Clark Murray
  • Scottish diaspora
  • Scottish philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Scotland's Migrant Philosophers and the History of Scottish Philosophy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this