Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Wonderful and Amazing Intellectual/Moral Explosion of the Scottish Enlightment!

The reason I write intellectual/moral as I do is because you cannot separate them.

I have for years been puzzled by the Scottish Enlightenment. Here was a small country that exploded onto the world a group of men whose influence continues today. How did this happen?

Here is a list of the men of the Scottish Enlightenment:

Robert Adam (1728–1792) architect.

James Anderson (1739–1808) agronomist, lawyer, amateur scientist.

Joseph Black (1728–1799) physicist and chemist, first to isolate carbon dioxide.

Hugh Blair (1718–1800) minister, author.

James Boswell (1740–1795) lawyer, author of Life of Johnson.

Thomas Brown (1778–1820), Scottish moral philosopher and philosopher of mind; jointly held the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University with Dugald Stewart.

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714–1799) philosopher, judge, founder of modern comparative historical linguistics.

Robert Burns[52] (1759–1796) poet.

Alexander Campbell (1788–1866) early leader in the Restoration Movement.

George Campbell (1719–1796) philosopher of language, theology, and rhetoric.

Sir John Clerk of Eldin (1728–1812) prolific artist, author of An Essay on Naval Tactics; great-uncle of James Clerk Maxwell.

William Cullen (1710–1790) physician, chemist, early medical researcher.

Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) considered the founder of sociology.

Robert Fergusson (1750–1774), poet.

Andrew Fletcher (1653–1716) a forerunner of the Scottish Enlightenment, writer, patriot, commissioner of Parliament of Scotland.

Sir James Hall, 4th Baronet (1761–1832) geologist, geophysicist.

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696–1782) philosopher, judge, historian.

David Hume (1711–1776) philosopher, historian, essayist.

Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) philosopher of metaphysics, logic, and ethics.

James Hutton (1726–1797) founder of modern geology.

Sir John Leslie (1766–1832) mathematician, physicist, investigator of heat (thermodynamics).

James Mill (1773–1836) late in the period - Father of John Stuart Mill.

John Millar (1735–1801) philosopher, historian, historiographer.

Thomas Muir of Huntershill, (1765–1799), political reformer, leader of the Scottish "Friends of the People Society."

John Playfair (1748–1819) mathematician, author of Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth.

Allan Ramsay (1686–1758) poet.

Henry Raeburn (1756–1823) portrait painter.

Thomas Reid (1710–1796) philosopher, founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense.

William Robertson (1721–1793) one of the founders of modern historical research.

Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) lawyer, novelist, poet.

John Sinclair (1754–1835) politician, writer, the first person to use the word statistics in the English language.

William Smellie (1740–1795) editor of the first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica.

Adam Smith (1723–1790) whose The Wealth of Nations was one of the first modern treatises on economics.

Dugald Stewart (1753–1828) moral philosopher.

George Turnbull (1698–1748), theologian, philosopher and writer on education.

John Walker (naturalist) (1730–1803) professor of natural history.

James Watt (1736–1819) student of Joseph Black; engineer, inventor of the Watt steam engine.

Many of these men ended up in Edinburgh, which at that time had about 25,000 people.

Here are some of the main characteristics these men shared.

For one, they got together in clubs in which they could discuss anything. You can't do that today because of PC, and if you form a club your meetings will be attacked by fascists/leftists, who believe in Thoughtcrime. George Orwell predicted this with uncanny accuracy.

What these men were doing is playing (which is a serious thing) and as Stuart Brown and other scholars have proved over and over, play is essential. They also had to engage in what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called Flow: the "mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity."

Said Brown about play: " adult who has 'lost' what was a playful youth and doesn’t play will demonstrate social, emotional and cognitive narrowing, be less able to handle stress, and often experience a smoldering depression."

The intellectual life of that time revolved around these clubs, which had names such as the Political Economy Club, the Select Society and The Poker Club.

All of these men were the recipients of a liberal education in the original definition, not the modern perverted left-wing one.

What created these men and their accomplishments is freedom. They had the freedom to read any book, to think any thought, to discuss any idea.

If you want to create another Enlightenment the first step is to get rid of the public schools. Children should not be in school for 12 years. There is no reason for it, except for babysitting while their parents slave their lives away. Public school dulls their minds and destroys their creativity and curiosity. They can't follow their own natural interests because sometimes they don't even know what they are. They can't be imaginative (daydreaming) because teachers (education majors have the lowest IQs of all majors) don't understand what is happening.

There is little play and little Flow in the public schools. For all practical purposes, none.

Another eight or more years to get a Ph.D.doesn't help either. These people are schooled but not necessarily educated. All these degrees are filters to get rid of those who aren't drones and grinds.

And, of course, getting together in clubs is essential. It's also essential that these clubs not be attacked in any way.

Since public schools are a large part of the problem, home-schooling is also essential. I'd live in a hobbit-hole in the country that I built myself before I'd send my kids to public schools.

I know enough about myself to know that I am a creative, imaginative, high-IQ introvert. I suspect most of these men, if not all, were the same. Adam Smith, for example, used to go for long walks in the cool of the evening to think and imagine (he once fell into a ditch, as I have).

The only time I enjoyed school was the summer I was in the gifted program, right before I turned 12. Two classes, each about half-an-hour, with a hour break in-between, which I spend in the library. The rest of my school career was a boring semi-prison that I daydreamed away.

The sad fact is, our entire society is set up to prevent another Enlightenment.

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