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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

17 - The Nineteenth-Century Aftermath


It was in the nineteenth century that a philosophical enterprise begun in the eighteenth century was first identified as ‘Scottish philosophy’, and arguably, philosophical discussion and debate were more intense and more culturally prominent in nineteenth-century Scotland than it had ever been before. Yet, while philosophy in the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment is now studied to the point of being a major academic industry, Scottish philosophy in the nineteenth century is virtually unknown. Hutcheson, Hume, Reid and Smith are names familiar to almost all philosophers, Brown, Hamilton, Ferrier and Bain to hardly any. This chapter aims to explain why one period of Scottish philosophy should remain perennially interesting and intensively studied and the period that followed it should fall so nearly into oblivion. It elaborates an answer couched in terms of the story of Scottish philosophy itself and argues that the nineteenth century saw the unravelling of the great philosophical project that had animated the eighteenth.