by John Kay.
Scotland's four universities — Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews — flourished during the Enlightenment.
New ideas and new ways of thinking put forward by Scots intellectuals were instrumental in establishing subjects recognisable at modern-day universities like Economics and Sociology.
Scottish academics made notable contributions to the study of written history, as they discussed and debated theories to explain concepts like economic and moral progress.
Historians including William Robertson and Adam Ferguson broke new ground with their fresh perspectives on the interpretation of events of the past.
In this themed section, visitors can view seminal works from renowned Scots intellectuals, and gain an insight into the academic arena of 18th-century Scotland.
Social science and academia highlights
Letters between Smith and Hume
Adam Smith and David Hume had a close correspondence. They often shared details of their work in their letters.
More about Smith's letter to Hume, 1764
Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations'
Scottish economist Adam Smith's ground-breaking work was first published in 1776.
More about 'The Wealth of Nations'
Civil society essay
Adam Ferguson, a philosopher at Edinburgh University, introduced new thinking about civilisation in his work.
More about Adam Ferguson's essay, 1767
Public critique of a historian
In the academic sphere, conflicting ideas between Enlightenment intellectuals could result in rivalry and character attacks.
More about 'Character of a certain popular historian'
More section highlights
Among the items in the 'Social science and academia' section are:
- Letter from William Robertson to Margaret Hepburn, asking her opinion on his book
- Bank of England £20 with Adam Smith depiction
- Lord Kames's 'Sketches of the History of Man', 1774.