chapter  5
Introduction – Christopher J. Berry
Pages 4

Poetry was grist to that mill in two related respects. First it is a species of evidence. Perhaps the most celebrated example is the Ossian debate. Hugh Blair defends the authenticity of the poems. He locates them in the rst, hunter, stage of human society.1 Drawing implicitly on Blackwell’s Homer, he a rms that the language and style of the poetry conforms to the manners of that stage. ere is an implicit Lockean developmental framework in operation. Hence Blair’s declaration that the ‘ideas of men at rst was all particular. ey had not the words to express general conceptions’ and it is proof of Ossian’s authenticity that he ‘accordingly, almost never expresses himself in the abstract’.2