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Buffon's reception in Scotland: the Aberdeen connection

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The reception of Buffon's Histoire Naturelle in the Enlightenment has not received the historical attention it deserves. Drawing primarily on archival sources, this paper examines Aberdeen reactions to the Histoire during the period c. 1750–1800. As pedagogues, the Aberdonians endeavoured to maintain intellectual orthodoxy, and hence they attacked Buffon for his apparent materialism and atheism. Moreover, the Aberdonians rejected Buffon's critique of taxonomy because they based their natural history courses on classifications of the three kingdoms of nature, and because they attempted to use classification systems in nosology and the study of the human mind. Finally, in the 1790s Aberdeen readings of the Histoire were profoundly affected by the fears aroused by the French Revolution.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of History, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6

Publication date: March 1, 1987

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