Capital of the Mind
How Edinburgh Changed the WorldBook - 2003
How did a notoriously poor, alcoholic, violent and smelly town, consisting of 40,000 inhabitants, make such an impression on its age and on ours? So that Voltaire wrote, with more than a dash of malice that 'today it is from Scotland that we get rules of taste in all the arts, from epic poetry to gardening'?
The leading lights of the Scottish Enlightenment - David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, William Cullen and James Hutton - transformed the way we treat our perceptions and feelings as well as mechanical processes, sickness and health, trade, money, relations between the sexes, the purposes of existence and government. In just fifty years, Edinburgh produced more philosophical landmarks than a town of its size since the Athens of Socrates.
In an account of exceptionally close focus, James Buchan resurrects every aspect of eighteenth-century Edinburgh, and shows how a succession of disasters demolished old systems of thought and behaviour to set Edinburgh's men and women off in strange new directions. Capital of the Mind opens a fascinating window on a glorious time when Edinburgh was the most beautiful and philosophical city in Europe.