Capital of the Mind

The Scots are a small nation living in the north west corner of the British Isles remote from the traditional centres of power in England and the European continent. Yet miraculously the Scots have contributed an enormous amount to Western culture and civilisation. Their contribution has been quite disproportionate to their population. Eighteenth century Edinburgh was a time and place in which we can witness this fact in all its fecundity. James Buchan tells the story of the ‘Scottish Enlightenment’ here by examining, among others, the lives of David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and William Cullen. Next time you’re in the High Street recall the words of Mr Amyat, the King’s Chemist.

‘Here I stand at what is called the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh, and can, in a few minutes, take fifty men of genius by the hand.’ A legacy of which we should all be proud. Here endeth the lesson.

448 pages in Birlinn paperback edition

ISBN 978-1841586397

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