Exchange of ideas during Scottish Enlightenment was made possible by myriad clubs and societies.
These served as arenas where intellectuals could moot their thoughts and test their arguments. Constructive criticism from audiences helped expose weaknesses and strengthen ideas.
The ability to be social, and make conversation in polite society was key for any intellectual wishing to debate and philosophise about difficult or controversial subjects.
The Enlightenment was also a time for challenging societal norms, with contentious publications and performances causing controversy and unrest in some spheres.
In this themed section, visitors can get a feel for the issues being debated and the books and plays capturing the imagination of the 'literati'.
Society and sociability highlights
First Library catalogue
An early catalogue of the Faculty of Advocates Library reveals some of the titles read by the Scottish 'literati'.
More about Advocates Library catalogue,
Order to remove indecent books
Shortly after becoming Keeper of the Advocates Library, David Hume was instructed to remove three works he had purchased.
More about Hume's order to remove books
Society minute book
Regularly meeting at the Advocates Library, the Select Society was one of the key clubs of the Enlightenment.
More about Select Society minutes, 1754
Attending the theatre was one of the sociable activities of the Enlightenment literati, especially if the play was one to be talked about.
More about 'The New Tragedy Douglas', 1757
More section highlights
Among the items in the 'Society and sociability' section are:
- Sketch of Robert Fergusson on reverse of Cape Club petition
- Campaign documents for a Scots Militia
- List of members of the Select Society.