James Hutton And The Scottish Enlightenment Figure

1918 Words 8 Pages
During the Scottish Enlightenment, a period of increased intellectual activity in the 18th and early 19th century, individuals tended to explore multiple disciplines of study (Young, 2016). One prominent Scottish Enlightenment figure was James Hutton, living from 1726 to 1797. During his lifetime he was a lawyer, geologist, chemist, physician, farmer, and naturalist. Hutton, along with other prominent Enlightenment figures, Joseph Black and Adam Smith, founded the Oyster Club. This intellectual club was based in Edinburgh and supplied a venue for where a plethora of ideas from various topics could be discussed (Furniss, 2010). Hutton began his studies in Edinburgh, matriculating into the University of Edinburgh at the age of fourteen in 1740. …show more content…
The existing biblically inspired geological interpretations granted people an understanding of the process of erosion, as the flood water would had eroded existing landmasses in order to get the minerals in solution. However, the biblical understanding explained the formation of all existing rocks as one catastrophic event produced by the great flood. While Hutton still asserted that many of Earth’s rocks formed due to the sedimentary processes of minerals being redeposited out of solution, he additionally contended that some rock formed from the impacts of pressure and heat. This hypothesis created a distinction between sedimentary rocks and rocks formed by pressure and heat. Hutton argued that the principle method of reconsolidation was heat because his observations of rocks allowed him to conclude that whatever force was acting upon the eroded minerals could not have taken up space between the minerals and required the ability to act upon a variety of minerals. Sagaciously, because of a requirement of heat to reconsolidate materials, Hutton proposed the interior of Earth must be hot. He came to these assertions after observing numerous rock formations, the most notable occurring in Aberdeen, Siccar Point, and Edinburgh. At Glin Tilt in Aberdeen, Hutton unearthed a swathe of granite, a type of rock believed …show more content…
in Thomas, 2010, pg 317). While his explanation conflicted with the Ussher’s biblical theory caused the religious explanation to seem unnecessary, he clearly defined that no scientific evidence was currently available to suggest an exact beginning of Earth. Rather, based on his observations of erosion and reformation, the processes would have had to been occurring for more than six thousand years. This fundamental break from the pre-existing and long standing biblical interpretation was widely circulated around European scientists, catalyzing future studies to be performed in order to determine Earth’s true

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