A History of Scottish Philosophy

A History of Scottish Philosophy

Alexander Broadie
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    A History of Scottish Philosophy
    Book Description:

    A full-length history of Scottish Philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2864-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    As a philosophy student at Edinburgh University in the 1960s I received a splendid education. We covered a great deal of ground and dealt with some major areas in serious depth; the programme was impressive and so was the delivery. However, with my student days behind me I found myself drawn increasingly to two fields, medieval philosophy and Scottish philosophy, on which my teachers had been almost totally silent. I had been taught David Hume’s philosophy by George E. Davie and Páll Árdal, but there were no lectures on Hume’s distinguished contemporaries who occupied philosophy chairs in Scotland, such as...

  5. CHAPTER 2 John Duns Scotus
    (pp. 7-33)

    The Franciscan friar John Duns Scotus (c.1266–1308) was born in the village of Duns in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. The Scottish philosopher/theologian John Mair (c.1467–1550) reports that:

    When [Scotus] was no more than a boy, but had been already grounded in grammar, he was taken by two Scottish Minorite [i.e. Franciscan] friars to Oxford, for at that time there existed no university in Scotland. By the favour of those friars he lived in the convent of the Minorites at Oxford, and he made his profession in the religion of the Blessed Francis.¹

    It is supposed that it...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Fifteenth Century
    (pp. 34-46)

    Scotland’s first three universities were founded in the fifteenth century, and prior to the earliest of them, St Andrews, almost all young Scots in search of a university education had gone to the continent. Oxford and Cambridge were not in the main an attractive option, chiefly because of the political relations between Scotland and England, at best uncertain and at worst fraught. The French universities, especially Paris, received Scottish students in the largest numbers, but other countries, such as Germany, Austria, Poland, Spain and Italy, also welcomed them. However, with the founding of St Andrews University in 1411, Scots could...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Circle of John Mair
    (pp. 47-86)

    The late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries were a period of transition for the European universities, as humanistic values encroached increasingly on late-medieval modes of thinking. Scottish philosophers participated in the various stages of the transition, and in this chapter I shall focus on aspects of their work. In the next chapter attention will be directed to the new scene that was opening up as the ‘modernisers’ started to dominate. John Mair (whose name appears in his lifetime, whether in print or in his own hand, as Mair, Maior and Major) is the dominant figure in the earlier part of the story....

  8. CHAPTER 5 Humanism and After
    (pp. 87-103)

    In this chapter I shall consider the developments in philosophy in Scotland after the heyday of the circle of John Mair and pay particular attention to the contrasts between that earlier period and its aftermath. In considering the contrasts we should bear in mind that all members of Mair’s circle had been logicians and that even those of their works that are neither logic textbooks nor commentaries on books of logic are suffused with the terms, logical categories and logical principles of distinction that are expounded in the logic textbooks. Deploying the extensive vocabulary of formal logic, they argued every...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Scotland Moves into the Age of Enlightenment
    (pp. 104-146)

    Among the philosophers of the earliest years of the Scottish Enlightenment there are three in particular whom I shall consider in this chapter. Listed in order of publication of their first significant works they are Gershom Carmichael (1672–1729), George Turnbull (1698–1748) and Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746). Hutcheson is sometimes referred to as ‘the father of the Scottish Enlightenment’. That he was a major influence on the direction of the Enlightenment in Scotland is not in doubt but it has to be acknowledged that several other thinkers, including Carmichael and Turnbull, were also influential and have strong Enlightenment credentials....

  10. CHAPTER 7 David Hume
    (pp. 147-195)

    David Hume was born in Edinburgh on 26 April 1711. He came, as he reports, ‘of a good family, both by father and mother’.¹ His father was a kinsman of the Earl of Home² and his mother was the daughter of Sir David Falconer, president of the College of Justice. David was two years old when his father died. Thereafter he and his elder brother John and elder sister Katherine were raised by their mother partly at the family estate, Ninewells, near Chirnside in the Scottish Borders, and partly in Edinburgh.

    Hume’s studies at Edinburgh University probably began at the...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Adam Smith
    (pp. 196-234)

    Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1723.¹ His father, also named Adam Smith, an Edinburgh lawyer and later comptroller of customs at Kirkcaldy, died shortly before his son was born, and young Adam was brought up by his mother Margaret Douglas (d. 1784), to whom he remained devoted and with whom he lived for much the greater part of his life.

    Smith learned Latin at his school in Kirkcaldy and then at the age of fourteen went up to Glasgow University, where his subjects were Latin, Greek, mathematics, science and philosophy. Thereafter he remembered with affection his Glasgow teacher,...

  12. CHAPTER 9 The Scottish School of Common Sense Philosophy
    (pp. 235-300)

    Famously Hume said of his Treatise of Human Nature: ‘It fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots.’¹ Yet Reid wrote in the dedication to his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense:

    I never thought of calling in question the principles commonly received with regard to the human understanding, until the Treatise of human nature was published, in the year 1739. The ingenious author of that treatise, upon the principles of Locke, who was no sceptic, hath built a system of scepticism, which leaves no...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Nineteenth Century: Ferrier to Seth
    (pp. 301-323)

    Scottish philosophy of the eighteenth century and the earlier part of the nineteenth, the period covered by the Scottish Enlightenment, is an extraordinary success story, as is demonstrated by the international impact of its chief participants. The philosophy of Thomas Reid is one of the most significant of Scotland’s invisible exports, and no less can be said of David Hume’s philosophy. Political economy, represented especially by Adam Smith and Sir James Steuart, and historiography, represented especially by Hume and William Robertson, were also major fields. There is too the work of Scotland’s scientists, among them Joseph Black, who discovered carbon...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Realism and Idealism: Some Twentieth-century Narratives
    (pp. 324-364)

    Writing in the 1950s John Passmore affirms: ‘[A]t the Scottish universities, particularly, Idealism is still the predominant tendency in philosophy.’¹ He thereupon mentions representative works by three leading figures: Scepticism and Construction (1931) by Charles A. Campbell, professor of logic and rhetoric at Glasgow; The Natural History of Mind (1936) by Arthur D. Ritchie, professor of logic and metaphysics at Edinburgh (and son of D. G. Ritchie, professor of logic and metaphysics at St Andrews from 1894 to 1903, and a relative also of David Ritchie, who had been Sir William Hamilton’s predecessor in the chair of logic and metaphysics...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Conclusion
    (pp. 365-369)

    As this book demonstrates, there has been a long tradition of philosophising in Scotland. Though the first great Scottish philosopher, John Duns Scotus, educated in the Scottish Borders until the age of about twelve, pursued his philosophical and theological studies furth of Scotland partly because there was no university here, during the fifteenth century three Scottish universities were founded, at St Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen, and philosophy figured high on the agenda of all of them. By the end of the sixteenth century, with the foundation of Edinburgh University and Marischal College, Aberdeen, the country had brought its tally of...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 370-380)
  17. Index
    (pp. 381-392)