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The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment1690-1805$
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Thomas Ahnert

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300153804

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300153804.001.0001

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Conduct and Doctrine

Conduct and Doctrine

(p.34) 2. Conduct and Doctrine
The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment

Thomas Ahnert

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses Presbyterianism during the period from about 1720 to 1740, when a loosely defined group of heterodox clergymen emerged within the established Kirk. This group argued that genuine faith was based on practical virtue, motivated by charity, which was the product of the process of “culture” or “culture of the mind.” They were skeptical of the need for a standard of doctrinal orthodoxy such as the Westminster Confession, which had become the central document of Presbyterian faith in Scotland after the Glorious Revolution. This theological context, it is shown, is crucial to understanding the moral thought of Francis Hutcheson, whose common epithet is that of the “father of the Scottish Enlightenment.” Hutcheson thought of both morality and faith as the product of “culture,” requiring effort on the part of the individual sinner, but also some form of divine assistance and grace.

Keywords:   Heterodoxy, Revelation, Charity, Virtue, Doctrine, Immortality, Natural Religion, Orthodoxy, Theodicy, Culture

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