The Scottish Enlightenment and the Aberdeen Wise Club - RSA

The Scottish Enlightenment and the Aberdeen Wise Club

Fellowship events / Online



Founded by the professoriate of King’s and Marischal Colleges in 1758, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, known as the ‘Wise Club’, transformed the Scottish Enlightenment.

The proceedings of philosophical and literary societies were woven into the fabric of eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment intellectual culture as forums for knowledge exchange. Following that Scottish pattern, the scientific cultivation of natural knowledge in the thought of Wise Club members, which included Thomas Reid, George Campbell and James Beattie, informed a defining pursuit of the Scottish Enlightenment —Scotland’s most successful invisible export by the turn of the nineteenth century.

The fruit of the Wise Club’s discourse went on to revolutionise moral and intellectual improvement throughout the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic world. In this talk, Dr Bow will contextualise the different ways in which the Wise Club defined a universal vision of Enlightenment for men and women beyond the North-East corner of Scotland.

Dr. Bradford Bow is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Aberdeen and Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies. His research revolves around the global intellectual history of Scottish Enlightenment philosophy. He is the editor of Common Sense in the Scottish Enlightenment published by Oxford University Press in 2018 and recently completed a monograph on A Global Empire of the Mind: Dugald Stewart’s Didactic Enlightenment. His current research involves two book projects concerning the Aberdeen Enlightenment and Scotland’s Imperial Enlightenment. And he is the co-editor with Professor Michael Brown of the volume 525 Years in the Pursuit of Truth: A New History of the University of Aberdeen forthcoming with Aberdeen University Press in 2021.

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