Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scotland's Cross

There is a secret tie
or union among partic-
ular ideas, which caus-
es the mind to conjoin
them more frequently,
and makes the one, up-
on its appearance, in-
troduce the other.

The white cross, anchoring the
four corners of the Union Jack
over the field of blue, is one
of the most recognised herald-
ic devices on the globe. With-
out the Cross of St Andrew, St
George's, intersecting at its 
center, is itself reduced to a 
lonely, unstable symmetry. 

That Scotland's Enlightenment
arose in the English language
was a coincidence. That it il-
luminates still a world think-
ing in that tongue is not. It
is mitigation for much history
we've been grateful to survive.
But it also demonstrates a prin-
cipal in the Scotsman, Hume's,
Treatise on Human Nature (1740),
of contiguity as connective in
one of his signal discoveries,
the association of ideas. Phil-
osophy cannot account for long- 
embattled union, but it can
for its subject. That island 
is more than a habit. 

Such a fashion there is for dis-
solution to achieve redemption,
it must derive from the allure
of abruptness, against which a
society where I live has often
lost its struggle. I trust the
experiment of being whole, to
gain understanding; generosity,
between siblings who originated
my impetuous, unhealed country,
has enlightenment to exemplify
to anxious cousins, worldwide.

David Hume
Treatise on Human Nature
Stanford University 
May 21, 2014©

John Ruskin
Ashmolean Collection

James Buchan
Crowded with Genius
  The Scottish Enlight-
  enment: Edinburgh's
  Moment of the Mind
Harper Collins, 2003© 

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