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The Scottish Enlightenment: How Books and Publishing Transformed a Nation

  In Scotland in the eighteenth century, the area that could be used for farming and grazing only accounted for a quarter of the total territory, and the economic level was not high. Among its entire population, except for the Scottish highlanders who spoke Gaelic, they were the Scottish lowlanders who spoke the Scottish dialect. In the eyes of the English at that time, the Scots were undoubtedly “vulgar and uncultured”. From any angle, they seemed to have no The soil from which the “Scottish Enlightenment” originated. However, looking back at the intersection between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people are surprised to find that in eighteenth-century Britain, “the most outstanding philosophers, political economists and many well-known social thinkers, important Many scientists, medical scientists and even rhetoricians and theologians came from Scotland” (Alexander Brody: “Scottish Enlightenment”, translated by Jia Ning, Zhejiang University Press, 2010 edition, page 23). Perhaps it is because of this strong contrast that Richard B. Sher said, “The Scottish Enlightenment itself remains a mystery” (Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh University Press, 2015: 2 ).
  How to solve this “mystery”? Richard Scheer’s “Enlightenment and Books” (Commercial Press, 2022 edition, this book is quoted below with page numbers only) attempts to unravel the mystery of the Scottish Enlightenment from the perspective of the social history of the Enlightenment and provide us with insight into the backcountry. provides new insights into how Scotland in the eighteenth century became a beacon of thought for that era.
1. Self-technification through media

  According to Schell, in the eighteenth-century world, “publishing was more important than reading and reception by readers,” because if a text could not be circulated in paper form, it “could not have a large readership” (p. 25). Having a “large number of readers” is an important reason for the rise of the Scottish Enlightenment, and is also a key link for Scottish thinkers to enter the world stage of thought.
  In fact, before and at the beginning of the Scottish Enlightenment, authors did not care much about whether their works had a large number of readers. They published their works more to gain fame, and an excellent way to gain fame is to obtain “big names” “favor. Powerful princes and nobles, in order to make themselves famous throughout their lives, often spent large sums of money to sponsor authors to publish their works; authors who hoped to become famous through writing also reciprocated the favor and exchanged the former’s favor and funding in the form of dedications – Through this kind of cooperation, the author obtains funds for book publishing, and the funder has an additional path to “immortality” through the writing of others. This is the patronage system that originated in ancient Greece and Rome.
  From the perspective of the relationship between the author and society, the patronage system is actually a special form of the author’s “self-technicalization” efforts. Foucault believes that self-technology “enables individuals to carry out a series of manipulations of their own bodies and souls, thoughts, behaviors, and ways of existence through their own power or the help of others, in order to achieve self-transformation in order to obtain A certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection or immortality” (Michel Foucault: “Techniques of the Self”, edited by Wang Min’an, Peking University Press, 2016 edition, page 54). In the patron system, through books, the physical substance of knowledge, both authors and patrons have the means to “control” or “adjust” their respective bodies. Through this “self-technicalization” effort, each realizes its own Purpose. Because of the support from patrons, the author values ​​personal reputation more than the number of readers of the book. But the transformation from “nobles” to “publishers” in England in the eighteenth century mentioned by Schell indicates that authors at this time must turn to the pursuit of “a large number of readers.”
  How can I have a large number of readers? Obviously, it is inseparable from the medium of books, the publishing industry, and even more so the careful planning of a series of “self-technification” carried out by the Scottish Enlightenment literati through the media. Compared with English literati like Johnson, David Hume had a stronger motivation to become famous – as a member of the Scots, “in the face of the successive losses and setbacks suffered by the nation…Hume’s circle of Scottish literati spontaneously Attempts to bring fame and honor to their own Scottish nation through their intellectual achievements” (p. 38). Therefore, how to demonstrate the greatness of Scotland through one’s own intellectual activities is not only a personal matter. Behind the fame, it is also a matter of national honor and disgrace.
  Hume was a skeptic. In the eighteenth century, when the religious atmosphere was still strong, no celebrities or institutions with any minor reputation would sponsor a pagan like him. Hume’s approach is to achieve “self-technification” through various media in publishing. First, he takes his “text” very seriously. Hume regarded the number of book readers as an important criterion for success, and he spent a lot of time on this. In 1739, the 28-year-old Hume published the first two volumes of “A Treatise of Human Nature” with publisher John Nunn’s company. Not only did it find few readers, it also had little repercussions in the literary circle. The first printing of one thousand copies of Nunn’s edition was not sold out during Hume’s lifetime. But he quickly adjusted his strategy. In cooperation with the Scottish publishers Andrew Miller and Kincaid, he not only rewrote “A Treatise of Human Nature” to make it more understandable, but also consciously “made it more understandable” in subsequent creations. Accessible essays serve as a framework within which those philosophical essays are interspersed” (p. 39). In the first edition and second edition of “History of England”, he revised it repeatedly, striving to achieve an ideal state. In his view, the text is a symbol of the author, and the books that reach the readers become the incarnation of the author.
  Secondly, Hume attaches great importance to media elements outside the text, viewing them as important carriers for “achieving self-transformation”. Contemporary researchers believe that “media constitutes the basic structure and quasi-transcendental standard of experience and understanding” (“Critical Terminology of Media Studies”, Nanjing University Press, 2019 edition, page 1). Although Hume did not realize that three hundred years later the media had become the environment in which people lived, he was connected to the above-mentioned understanding of the media to a certain extent. Hume attached great importance to the format of the books he published. Before the 1758 edition of “Some Essays and Essays” was published, he wrote to the publisher requesting that it be published in quarto format. In his opinion, the quarto is a symbol of the author’s identity, and only distinguished authors can publish their works in this form. In a social context at that time where Scots were often looked down upon, Hume felt that this “media form” could convey that Scots were not inferior by publishing quarto editions of his works in London, allowing people (especially himself and his fellow Scots) to have a sense of Feeling proud and proud. Hume also valued portraits in books. In his opinion, they could directly convey the author’s information to readers and society, allowing them to have direct perception and experience of the author. The 1768 edition of “Some Essays and Essays” contains a portrait of Hume, which was engraved by an engraver based on a painting by the famous painter John Donaldson. The photo shows Hume wearing a wig, with a solemn expression, and in profile, rather than in the more common portrait of the painter Allan Ramsay from 1754, who is stout in middle age. Hume may be closer to Hume himself, but Hume certainly felt that the former better reflected his literary style.
  Additionally, there are language issues. At that time, there were very few Scots who could speak pure English, and the English often made fun of the Scots for their poor English. After William Robertson’s “History of Scotland” was published in 1759, the English celebrity Horace Walpole expressed surprise that Robertson could write such “pure and decent” English. There were even rumors that this It was because Robertson had been “educated at Oxford.” That Robertson was educated at Oxford is certainly untrue, but it is worth asking whether his text was polished by the publisher. During the publication of his work, Hume also wrote to the publisher many times, asking them to help polish the language and remove traces of Scottish dialect. The invocation of elements closely related to media such as texts, portraits, formats, and languages ​​is quite common among Scottish Enlightenment literati. In addition to Hume and Robertson, others such as Adam Smith, Tobias Smollett, and William Bard Ken, Robert Burns, etc. all used these media means to “self-technologicalize” to varying degrees to highlight the excellence and extraordinaryness of the Scottish Enlightenment literati.

2. “Publisher Function” with Media as the Core

  Publishers are often ignored. At a banquet in the 1870s, someone compared Strahan to William Warburton and said that the two were closely related. The result was Johnson’s ridicule: “That kind of closeness is just… It’s like…the relationship between a university professor and a carpenter who does repair work at the university.” Warburton was an eighteenth-century British critic who edited the works of Alexander Pope and Shakespeare. One of the most prestigious Scottish publishers in London of that era was also Johnson’s publisher. It is said that Strahan was deeply hurt when he heard this later. Ten years later, when Adam Ferguson was collaborating on a book with Strahan, he treated the latter as a “technician”, causing Strahan’s strong dissatisfaction. However, the “publisher function” in the Scottish Enlightenment cannot be ignored, and important publishers in Edinburgh and London took on more responsibilities in the Scottish Enlightenment, “providing authors… with funding previously given by traditional patrons” , “publishers and booksellers behind the scenes” played a “decisive role… They acted as intermediaries between authors and the public” (p. 169).
  Authors often talk about “writing a book”, but in fact, what the author writes is a “text”, not a book. There is also a need for a publisher as a “bridge” between “text” and “book”. As a media form of knowledge products, books are actually an entity of “composite media” and the existence of “composite text”. In addition to the author’s text, there are also “paratexts”. In Genette’s view, a book’s title and subtitle, dedication, introduction, preface and postscript, notes, translator’s comments, new edition introduction, cover, illustrations, book series and its design, material materials, etc. can all be regarded as “paratexts” . Some of them are the work of the author, while the selection of covers, illustrations, designs and materials are inseparable from the publisher’s planning (Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, Cambridge University Press, 1997: 407-408). The aforementioned emphasis on portraiture by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume is certainly due to the author’s need for “self-technification”, but without the strong cooperation of publishers, this “medium” in book media cannot be represented in books. , it is impossible for the author to play a role in the process of constructing his own image among readers and the public sphere. In particular, in the eighteenth century, the engraving of the author’s portrait was a laborious matter. Not only was there a shortage of engraving craftsmen, the supply exceeded demand, but the cost of printing the portrait was extremely high: usually the cost of a book’s portrait accounted for up to 100% of the cost of the portrait in addition to the paper. 40% of all expenses, which the author cannot do alone. By the end of the 18th century, the use of portraiture in books became commonplace, such as Robert Burns’s Poems in the Scots Dialect, surgeon Benjamin Bell’s Systems of Surgery, and John Pinkerton’s The Stuarts to Queen Mary. “History of Scotland in the Era”, Munger Parker’s “Journey to the African Interior”, etc., all use this “new medium” to enhance the author’s credibility and authority. Portrait painting, a “medium” in books, has even made portrait painters a popular cultural figure. Joshua Reynolds, a portrait painter in the 18th century, accumulated more than 100,000 pounds during his lifetime (equivalent to six years in the early 21st century). £1.9 million) wealth.
  In addition to controlling “paratexts” to realize their “publishing function,” Scottish Enlightenment publishers often transform “texts” in order to realize their own “Scottish Enlightenment ideals.” In the mid-eighteenth century, tens of thousands of Scots and Irish immigrated to the North American colonies for livelihood or other reasons, including many booksellers. In the 1790s, Thomas Dobson, a bookseller from Scotland, published the Encyclopedia Britannica. He could have reprinted the Edinburgh edition, but he hired well-known authors to rewrite the book, which included a large amount of space on Scotland. In addition, there are dozens of biographies of Scottish Enlightenment authors, which not only made Americans look at Scotland with admiration, but also promoted the publication of the works of Scottish Enlightenment thinkers in the United States. In 1770, the Scottish historian William Guthrie died. In the same year, John Knox, a Scottish bookseller in London, published his posthumous work “Geography, History, and the New Laws of Commerce, and the Present Situation of the Several Kingdoms at the Present Day” , it is said that this best-selling book of the late eighteenth century was not written by Guthrie, but that Knox, seeing that “geographical books seldom considered Scotland, devised a plan… to ask Guthrie to help write this work” necessary part, and also asked his permission to use his name on the title page” (page 137). In other words, Noske’s purpose in compiling this book was to promote Scotland.
  Sher’s research also found that through the medium of books and cooperation in publishing practices, the Scottish Enlightenment publishers in London and the Enlightenment publishers rooted in their hometown of Edinburgh established a strong cooperation mechanism. On the British cultural map in the second half of the century, they not only created a miracle in the publishing industry, but more importantly, through their joint efforts, they also contributed to the rise of Scottish Enlightenment thinkers and promoted the spread of the Scottish Enlightenment movement. Andrew Miller and William Strahan were both Scottish booksellers who set up companies in London. The former’s publishing company and the latter’s printing company were respectively “leading enterprises in their respective industries”. For most of their careers they worked closely with their counterparts back home in Edinburgh. When Miller was young, he and Edinburgh bookseller Alexander Kincaid jointly studied under Edinburgh bookseller James McEwan, and Strahan was the main printer of Miller’s books. This relationship made them closely together and became The first generation of the London-Edinburgh publishing axis. Later, their successors Thomas Caddell, William Davis, Andrew Strahan, William Creech and others continued the cooperation, forming the second generation London-Edinburgh publishing cooperation system. In the past fifty years, the two generations have collaborated to publish Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and “The Wealth of Nations”, Adam Ferguson’s “A History of Civilized Society”, Hume’s “History of England”, and Robertson’s “History of Scotland”. In addition to works such as “Ecclesiastes” by Hugh Blair and “Treatise of Man” by Alexander Pope, he also published many works on natural science, medicine, and agriculture. The Scottish Enlightenment has holistic characteristics in the field of thought. From a modern perspective, Scotland has made remarkable achievements not only in the fields of humanities and social sciences such as literature, history, philosophy, economics, and politics, but also in the fields of mathematics, physics, medicine, and agriculture. Enlightenment publishers have fully disseminated these intellectual achievements through their own publishing practices.
3. Literati in the media, enlightenment in the media

  ”The medium is the message” is the insightful insight of communication scholar McLuhan. He used this statement to emphasize that the media constructs an “environment” and human beings always exist in various media environments. In fact, from a micro level, a single medium is indeed a “message”. Judging from the emphasis on book formats by enlightenment literati such as David Hume, the media format of books in different formats actually conveys the author’s dignity and authority. It is linked to the Scottish ideological enlightenment and adds another layer of nationality. Factors of dignity and national identity. From a semiotic perspective, the media form foreshadowed by the folio and the “text” itself constitute indispensable symbols for the medium of books. From the perspective of conveying meaning, especially highlighting the Scottish national spirit, the two The effects are actually about the same. If we take into account the meaning of “middle” and “centered” in the Latin origin of the word “medium”, then “the message is also the medium”. The portraits in books recognized by Scottish Enlightenment literati such as Hume, Blair, Pinkerton, and Burns actually use the “in-between” position to structure the relationship between people (authors and readers, thinkers and society). Constructing the author’s vivid image and trustworthy authority.

  Through the presentation of media, Scottish Enlightenment literati became the “cultural heroes” of that era. James Boswell was a descendant of David Hume from Scotland. He once had some contempt and disdain for Hume due to religious issues, but later he was full of admiration and admiration for Hume as an enlightenment scholar. There are frequent records of reading Hume’s works in his “London Diary” and “Edinburgh Diary”. In his diary on January 29, 1763, he wrote that Hume “enhanced my mind and inspired all kinds of people.” A noble emotion.” There is also an interesting story recorded on February 18, 1763, in which he wrote to Hume and expected a reply. The incident originated from a prank played by two of Boswell’s friends – knowing that Boswell admired Hume, they forged a letter written by Hume to Boswell, and later revealed the truth, which greatly embarrassed Boswell. . So Boswell wrote to Hume, hoping to get a reply from Hume to defeat the director’s prank and fool his friend. He expressed to Hume in the letter: “The letters of outstanding people are of extraordinary value and will give people a coveted dignity.” He also humorously “seduce” Hume, who lived in Edinburgh, in the postscript, “Your Excellency By agreeing to correspond with me, you will learn from me the news and curiosities of London” (Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763, Edinburgh University Press, 2019: 192-193). Also in 1763, Hume made a trip to France. Before anyone arrived, it had already disturbed the Paris cultural circle. Diderot, d’Alembert, Holbach, etc. were eagerly awaiting his arrival and warmly received him. ——The reason is that “Hume in the Media” has already been deeply rooted in the hearts of French people!
  In the process of constructing the “cultural heroes” of Scottish Enlightenment literati, the “publisher function” of Scottish Enlightenment publishers was indispensable. As Scots, they have a deep attachment to their homeland. Although from a business perspective, they also value learned men such as Johnson in England and Buffon in France, they undoubtedly prefer their fellow nationals in Scotland, so that authors from other regions often Jealousy and resentment over the favoritism shown by Scottish Enlightenment publishers to Scottish Enlightenment thinkers. In addition to the “publisher function” mentioned above, Scottish Enlightenment publishers also shaped Scottish Enlightenment thinkers through many other forms of “quasi-texts”. For example, when they sign the author’s name on the title page of a book, they often list the author’s other works. In this way, they build a continuous, three-dimensional, and full image of the author. From the perspective of information dissemination, what the Scottish Enlightenment publishers do is just another effort to amplify the role of the Scottish author group (using famous authors to attract less famous authors)!
  When conducting research on the Scottish Enlightenment, Scheer advocated using the term “Enlightenment men of letters” rather than “Enlightenment philosophers”. In his opinion, Enlightenment philosophers overemphasized the single role of the author, while Enlightenment literati included authors, publishers and many other groups involved. This view makes sense. At least in the unfolding process of the Scottish Enlightenment, we see the indispensable status and role of Scottish publishers.