如果我們回溯十八、十九世紀，即可發覺蘇格蘭人的傑出。經濟學之父亞當斯密、發明蒸汽機的瓦特、西方發明牛痘的傑佛、發明綜合紡織機的布坎南、發現 二氧化碳的布萊克、治療壞血病的林德、設計現代公路的麥克亞當、設計現代鐵路的戴爾佛， 以及後來移民美國成為鋼鐵大王的卡內基，成為電報電話大王的貝爾，他們全都是蘇格蘭人，更不必說，十八世紀蘇格蘭最偉大的思想家休姆。
Scots: Scottis Enlightenment) was the period in 18th century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By 1750, Scots were among the most literate citizens of Europe, with an estimated 75% level of literacy. The culture was oriented to books, and intense discussions took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later, The Poker Club as well as within Scotland’s ancient universities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Sharing the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment of the same time period, the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment asserted the fundamental importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority which could not be justified by reason. They held to an optimistic belief in the ability of humanity to effect changes for the better in society and nature, guided only by reason. It was this latter feature which gave the Scottish Enlightenment its special flavour, distinguishing it from its continental European counterpart. In Scotland, the Enlightenment was characterised by a thoroughgoing empiricism and practicality where the chief virtues were held to be improvement, virtue and practical benefit for both the individual and society as a whole.
Among the fields that rapidly advanced were philosophy, political economy, engineering, architecture, medicine, geology, archaeology, law, agriculture, chemistry and sociology. Among the Scottish thinkers and scientists of the period were Francis Hutcheson, Alexander Campbell, David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, Robert Burns, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black and James Hutton.
The Scottish Enlightenment had effects far beyond Scotland itself, not only because of the esteem in which Scottish achievements were held in Europe and elsewhere, but also because its ideas and attitudes were carried across the Atlantic world as part of the Scottish diaspora, and by American students who studied in Scotland. As a result, a significant proportion of technological and social development in the United States, Canada and New Zealand in the 18th and 19th centuries were accomplished through Scots-Americans and Scots-Canadians.