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The Aberdeen Enlightenment

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Founded in 1758 to discuss philosophical subjects, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society (known as the ‘Wise Club’) boasted a membership drawn from the professional elite of Aberdeen and the north east of Scotland that included Thomas Reid, George Campbell, John Gregory, David Skene, Alexander Gerard and James Beattie. As ordained Presbyterian ministers and regents at Kings’ College, Aberdeen, the Wise Club developed common sense philosophy between 1758 and 1773 as a formidable response to the philosophical scepticism associated with Scotland’s ‘Great Infidel’ David Hume. The philosophy of common sense became known as ‘the Scottish philosophy’ by the turn of the nineteenth century and reached a transnational audience as Scotland’s most significant invisible export.

The advertised doctoral project seeks to shed new light on the Aberdeen Enlightenment that emerged from the Wise Club. It is well documented that Reid’s published works popularised the Scottish school of common sense philosophy and Beattie’s version of common sense intervened in imaginative literature. And yet, the thought of other Wise Club members remain generally understudied. Professor Michael Brown and Dr Charles Bradford Bow welcome the opportunity to supervise doctoral research on the different branches of knowledge examined by Wise Club members as well as the reception of common sense philosophy in the contexts of Aberdeen and abroad. The Special Collections Centre at the University of Aberdeen holds the unpublished papers of Wise Club members and relevant manuscripts regarding the genesis of common sense philosophy.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. There is no funding attached to this project.
Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree in Modern History or a related subject. A Master’s degree in Intellectual History or the History of Philosophy will be an advantage. The successful candidate will have general knowledge of Enlightenment historiography with a particular research interest in Scottish Enlightenment intellectual and moral culture.

Related Subjects

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