Looking back, it is easy to underestimate the freshness of the thinking and the considerable impact that these ideas have had on our cities of today. Their ideas may still be the subject of intense debate, but it is easy to forget that they were dreamed up an a very different society than the one that we live in. Much of our world was foreseen by the enlightenment writers. I wonder what they would write if we could bring them back today, so they could see what has worked, and what has not, and look again with their keen eyes at the sprawl of modern civilisation.
For those (particularly the Glaswegians) who see the work of Francis Hutcheson as its initiator, our northern branch of the Enlightenment had its beginnings at Glasgow University. But it was in Edinburgh that the city itself began to function as a university, such was the concentration of talent. Having failed in the Darien venture, Edinburgh was now to export its ideas across the world, with phenomenal success.