Repository logo
 

A Theory of the Enlightenment in Late Eighteenth-Century Sweden: Nils von Rosenstein and Scotland's Science of Man and Politics

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Skjonsberg, Max 

Abstract

Nils von Rosenstein’s Försök til en afhandling om uplysningen, til dess beskaffenhet, nytta och nödvändighet för samhället (An Attempt at a Dissertation on the Enlightenment, its Character, Usefulness and Necessity for Society), published in 1793, presents an unusually comprehensive theory of ‘the Enlightenment’ (Upplysningen) from a contemporary of the period. This article explores the impact of Enlightenment ideas in late eighteenth-century Sweden through the case study of Rosenstein and his remarkable text. While deepening our understanding of the Enlightenment in Sweden, it also expands our knowledge of the impact of the Scottish Enlightenment abroad, the scholarship on which has been mainly focused on Germany. Sweden is further shown to be a fruitful case study for considering the politicization of the late Enlightenment independently of the French Revolution. The French Revolution formed a key part of the political backdrop to the publication of the Dissertation, but its intellectual content was more indebted to the Scottish Enlightenment. Rosenstein’s pragmatic and contextual approach to politics is often explained away by the precarious climate after Gustav III’s assassination. Instead, this article shows that it is better understood as a style of thought which Rosenstein had in common with the leading thinkers of eighteenth-century Scotland.

Description

Keywords

The Enlightenment, Nils von Rosenstein, Sweden, Scotland, Political Science, The French Revolution, Gustav III

Journal Title

SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0346-8755
1502-7716

Volume Title

ahead-of-print

Publisher

Informa UK Limited
Sponsorship
Isaac Newton Trust (21.08(w)TR)
Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2021-456)