Socrates and Religious Debate in the Scottish Enlightenment

Felicity Perpetua Loughlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Socrates was a familiar figure in the cultural life of Enlightenment Europe. His virtuous life, philosophical wisdom and unjust death attracted the interest of numerous scholars, writers, artists and composers of the period. This chapter expands our understanding of this European phenomenon by exploring the significance of Socrates in the debates over 'natural religion' that divided the Scottish Kirk of the eighteenth century. Particular attention is paid to the philosopher and clergyman, Archibald Campbell (1691-1756), who carried out an extensive and pioneering investigation of Socrates' religious beliefs. The chapter aims to revise the ongoing tendency to emphasise appropriations of Socrates as a symbol for various eighteenth-century causes over contemporary engagements with the philosopher's ideas and teachings. It argues that it is only by setting the critical engagement with Socrates' ideas alongside Socratic myth-making that we can fully appreciate the philosopher's significance in the intellectual culture of Enlightenment Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrill's Companion to the Reception of Socrates
EditorsChrstopher Moore
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-39675-3
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2019

Publication series

NameBrill's Companions to Classical Reception


  • Socrates
  • Reception History
  • Scottish Enlightenment
  • Religion


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