The Scottish Enlightenment

Race, Gender, and the Limits of Progress

  • Authors
  • Silvia¬†Sebastiani

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Silvia Sebastiani
    Pages 23-43
  3. Silvia Sebastiani
    Pages 103-131
  4. Silvia Sebastiani
    Pages 163-172
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 173-255

About this book


The Scottish Enlightenment shaped a new conception of history as a gradual and universal progress from savagery to civil society. Whereas women emancipated themselves from the yoke of male-masters, men in turn acquired polite manners and became civilized. Such a conception, however, presents problematic questions: why were the Americans still savage? Why was it that the Europeans only had completed all the stages of the historic process? Could modern societies escape the destiny of earlier empires and avoid decadence? Was there a limit beyond which women's influence might result in dehumanization? The Scottish Enlightenment's legacy for modernity emerges here as a two-faced Janus, an unresolved tension between universalism and hierarchy, progress and the limits of progress.


Age of Enlightenment climate concept David Hume enlightenment gender history history of literature natural history philosophy scottish Enlightenment society stage women

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2013
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Palgrave History Collection
  • Print ISBN 978-1-349-29622-4
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-06979-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site