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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophers in eighteenth-century Britain had a keen interest in human nature, and made great strides in developing more scientific conceptions of human nature by borrowing and adapting the methods from natural history and natural philosophy. Human nature was analyzed at the level of the individual: how to cultivate a moral sense, or a more refined taste with respect to beauty. Even more attention was paid to the members of a society, and to the stages of development, especially in relation to laws, government, and other social institutions. Entering a new economic age of prosperity, British thinkers focused on social progress in manners and conversational skills, as well as in the arts and sciences. This chapter examines these developments and the work of some of the most important proponents of the science of human nature. It concludes with some reflection on the legacies of the eighteenth-century views in Britain, Europe, and America.

Keywords: science of human nature, internal sense, perception, association, women, virtue, social refinement

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