Political Bodies as Living Mechanisms in Scottish Political Theory during the Late Eighteenth Century

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Oili Pulkkinen University of Jyväskylä oili.pulkkinen@yahoo.co.uk

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Newtonian science and mechanics left an important imprint on the Scottish Enlightenment. Even though the usage of mechanical metaphors, especially that of a “state machine” per se, were rare in Scottish philosophy, its conception of the human, animal and political bodies as mechanisms that function according to regular principles, or laws, helped to shape many of the theories that have now become popular in various fields of Scottish studies. Most research in these fields focus on the conceptions of history related to theories of economic advancement. In this article the author suggests that the theories produced in the Scottish Enlightenment were also nuanced attempts to describe how historical mechanisms operate.

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