From Francis Hutcheson to James McCosh: Irish Presbyterians and Defining the Scottish Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century

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Abstract

This article examines the disputes amongst Irish Presbyterians about the teaching of moral philosophy by Professor John Ferrie in the college department of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution in the early nineteenth century and the substantive philosophical and theological issues that were raised. These issues have largely been ignored by Irish historians, but a discussion of them is of general relevance to historians of ideas as they illuminate a series of broader questions about the definition and development of Scottish philosophy. These are represented in the move from two philosophers who had strong connections with Irish Presbyterianism—Francis Hutcheson, the early eighteenth-century moral sense philosopher and theological moderate from County Down, and James McCosh, nineteenth-century exponent of modified Common Sense philosophy at Queen's College Belfast and a committed evangelical. In particular, this article addresses three important themes—the definition and character of ‘the Scottish philosophy’, the relationship between evangelicalism and Common Sense philosophy, and the process of development and adaptation that occurred in eighteenth-century Scottish thought during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-643
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Volume40
Issue number5
Early online date08 Nov 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2014

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