Abstract

Abstract:

To subject politics to "theory," "metaphysics," or "speculation" was disreputable in 1790s Britain, owing largely to the success of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), which linked these practices with enthusiasm. This fact is well established, but less studied are the means by which those committed to these forms of inquiry defended their intellectual conduct. Dugald Stewart's Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792) was a pedagogical text that instructed the Scottish elite on how to govern their faculties; it was also a riposte to Burkean prudence, portraying the veneration of practice as theoretically naive.

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