There is nothing local about philosophy. Wisdom transcends the barriers of nations, periods, tongues, and civilizations. Yet the history of thought defines some interesting configurations of ideas which are readily identified with times and places as well as with persons. Greek philosophy is a basic concept in intellectual history, and German philosophy has illustrated the interaction of language, locality, temper, and point of view along with various other cultural factors which give meaning to the term. Scotland provides a less-striking identity of thought and culture, since it is not unique in language, nor has it enjoyed the isolation characterized by certain other communities. Nevertheless, there is a definite and identifiable set of ideas, attitudes, and insights which are as Scottish as reformed theology, oatmeal, and certain potables. This Scottish Philosophy deserves a wider consideration in the intellectual market place, inasmuch as it bears on every phase of Western culture and exercises a substantial influence on contemporary affairs. It is most fortunate, therefore, that Professor Robinson has found time to bring the stalwart thinkers of that little island together in a single volume with selected writings from each. This is a distinct contribution to the great conversation.
It is still more fortunate that a seasoned scholar has undertaken the selection. Criticism is the art of the mature and disciplined mind rather than the prerogative of an aspiring bright young pilgrim. Only the man who has long surveyed the clusters of thought which mark the intellectual adventures of mankind is able to see Scottish Philosophy in a world perspective of space and time. D. S. Robinson has a long and honorable career in study, teaching, and writing to draw from as he presents the best of Old Scotia. The best minds of more than half a century have been his intellectual companions for conversation, criticism, and debate.