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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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Moderates in the Late Enlightenment

Moderates in the Late Enlightenment

(p.122) Conclusion: Moderates in the Late Enlightenment
The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment

Thomas Ahnert

Yale University Press

Moderatism is often said to have declined intellectually from the 1790s onward, and to have turned into little more than a conservative, reactionary group that was interested primarily in securing access to influential, salaried positions. The controversy over the appointment of John Leslie to the chair of natural philosophy at Edinburgh in 1805 is seen as an illustration of this decline. Leslie was opposed by Moderates and was defended by an alliance of orthodox clergymen and secular university professors, in an apparent reversal of the previous distribution of roles between Moderates and orthodox Presbyterians. This chapter examines the issues that were at stake in the Leslie controversy, in relation to the outlook of the Moderate party at that time. It also highlights some of the continuities between the eighteenth-century debates discussed and nineteenth-century attitudes on the role of religion in moral education and the formation of character.

Keywords:   Moderates, Orthodox, Natural Religion, Christianity, General Assembly, Patronage, French Revolution, Napoleon, Causation, “Leslie Affair”

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