The four leading members of the Scottish Enlightenment (Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson) not only agreed in regarding human life as essentially social life: they even shared the conviction that man's «social» (defined as altruistic or benevolent) propensities would prevail in the operation of society. Throughout their accounts of man, discussed in part one, a distinct tone of optimism is perceptible. The second part attempts to explain the predominance of this optimism among the Scottish intellectuals of the Enlightenment period. A full exposition of eighteenth-century Scottish history shows the philosophers' optimism to be in line with the climate of opinion belonging to an age of improvement.
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York, Paris, 1988. XVIII, 373 pp.
Contents: Ideas of human nature - Man's social nature - The accounts of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson
- Scottish Enlightenment - Scottish History - Social, political, and economic history.