Orientalism in the Scottish Enlightenment

C. B. Bow (Yonsei University)

Friday, 22 February 2019, 4.00 – 5. 30 pm

Venue: Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), Hope Park Square (map)

This paper examines Dugald Stewart’s unpublished ‘Conjectures concerning the Origin of the Sanscrit’ in the contexts of his educational doctrine. Established historiographical portraits of Orientalism as a vehicle for imperial expansion, naturalism, and Romantic imaginative literature do not account for the ways in which it affected Scottish Enlightenment epistemology at the end of the ‘First’ British Empire. An identifiable system of moral education developed from Stewart’s ambition to combat a formidable counter-Enlightenment movement as the professor of pneumatics and moral philosophy at Edinburgh University between 1785 and 1810. In doing so, Stewart reformed the Scottish philosophical tradition of teaching metaphysics as moral philosophy. This paper shows that Stewart applied his educational doctrine to different branches of Orientalism after retiring from teaching as a way to sustain the Scottish Enlightenment science of mind in a globalising British world.

C. B. Bow is Assistant Professor of Global Intellectual History at Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea). Dr Bow is the editor of the volume Common Sense in the Scottish Enlightenment (2018), and his research has appeared in Historical Research; History; Modern Intellectual History; Scottish Historical Review; History of European Ideas; Intellectual History Review; Journal of Scottish Philosophy; and Eighteenth-Century Scotland. He is currently at work on the first modern intellectual biography of Dugald Stewart.

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