The Democratic Intellect was recommended by Richard Gunn
As part of the Ragged Library, Richard Gunn – a recently retired lecturer on political theory at the University of Edinburgh suggested ‘The Democratic Intellect: Scotland and Her Universities in the Nineteenth Century (Edinburgh University Press 1961 and – more recently – 2013’…
Davie’s book (published in 1961) opened a window on Scottish thought from the eighteenth century onwards; in addition, it brought a then-neglected philosophy into view.The philosophy was that of ‘common sense’, and Davie underlined the significance of common sense in the history of Scottish education.
My favourite chapters in the Democratic Intellect are ch. 1 (where Davie discusses the notion of general education, with specific reference to the ideas of George Jardine) and ch. 11 (which is aptly titled ‘A Metropolis of Common Sense’).
Since 1961, academics have had much to say on the common sense tradition – but Davie’s presentation remains distinctive because it is alive to how ‘common sense’ may affect our lives. In his view, common sense is inextricably linked to searching conversation and interaction. Thirty years ago, Davie’s thought was pivotal to a renaissance of discussion in Scotland. There seems to me no reason why this should not be the case today.