Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

an

which is ever the fore-runner of intellectual progress. This was a fitting season for the inception of philosophical ideas, and though originally inspired by the speculations of former ages, they rapidly assumed a national complexion and rose to the distinction of a school designated the School of Scottish Philosophy. The first three authors who held the field in Scottish Philosophy during the earlier and larger half of the eighteenth century were Francis Hutcheson, Andrew Baxter, and David Hume. The first of the trio was the reputed founder of the school ; though an Irishman by birth he was of Scottish descent. His grandfather, Alexander Hutcheson, was a native of Ayrshire, but emigrated to Ulster and was located as Presbyterian minister of Saintfield in County Down.

The father of Francis became Presbyterian minister at Armagh, where his son was born on the 8th August, 1694. At

an early age Francis was sent to school at Francis Hutcheson, Saintfield, where he received an elementary 1694-1746.

education, and subsequently attended acadernyat Killyleagh, making rapid progress. It was at this academy he first made his acquaintance with the classics, in addition to which he studied the outlines of Scholastic Philosophy, which laid the foundation for his future achievements in this branch of learning. Leaving the Academy of Killyleagh in 1711, he entered the University of Glasgow, where he remained for six years, afterwards returning to Ireland, where he was licensed to preach in a dissenting body, and was just on the point of being settled in a church in the north of Ireland when he was urged to open a private academy in Dublin for advanced education. Believing his true sphere lay in the direction of teaching, he opened an academy and soon became popular as a lecturer and teacher. He lectured without notes, which was regarded as a great virtue in those days, and walked backward and forward in the area of bis room after the fashion of the old Roman orators of whom Quintilian speaks. Having secured a reputation by his writings, he was elected Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow in 1729 (an office he retained till his death in 1747) where he became as popular as he had been in his private academy at Dublin. In 1725 his first work was published, entitled “ An Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue;" in 1728, “ An Essay on the Passions and Affections ;" 1742, "Metaphysical Synopsis,” “A Logical Compendium;" and his last work, “ A System of Moral Philosophy,” which was published by his son in 1755 from the original MSS., setting forth in three books a complete view of his system. The first book treats on the constitution of human nature, the second is a deduction of the more special laws and duties of life forming a prelude to civil government, and the third, a treatise on civil governnient. In the sphere of moral philosophy Hutcheson is entitled to high distinction, and his psychological views were far in advance of his times. The Utilitarianism of John Locke, though of the narrowest character, no doubt furnished him with hints in that direction, but he soon transferred it to a wider and more comprehensive area. Many of the principles of Bentham and Mill and later Utilitarianism are to be found in Hutcheson's Speculations. Not only so, but the doctrine of industrial liberty was taught by Hutcheson long before any of the French physiocrates had written on the subject. He was also a great advocate of civil and religious liberty, which he treated philosophically, in the course of which he manifested an ardent desire for enlightenment and culture. It is greatly to the credit of Hutcheson, too, that Adam Smith, the author of “The Wealth of Nations,” first imbibed his ideas on political econoiny from the exposition of Hutcheson in his class-room.

The second author does not necessarily claim a detailed or lengthy comment, having done comparatively little to extend the

sphere of Scottish philosophy. Andrew Baxter, Andrew Baxter, the son of an Aberdeen merchant, was born in 1686-1750.

that city in 1686, and became a student at King's College. On leaving the University he chose for his occupation that of private tutor, for which he was well qualified on account of his patient and equable disposition. Froin what he himself indicates, he was not endowed with excepit.onal gifts, but was a hard and tenacious student who could master a subject and wrestle with a problem. In 1733 he published his most popular book, “ An Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul.” In connection with this work he wrote an Appendix, which was published soon after his death. In addition to this, he left a work entitled “ The Evidence of Reason in Proof of the Immortality of the Soul," which was not published for nearly thirty years after his death. In the course of his speculations he attempted to refute, or rather to laugh off the stage, the Idealism of Berkeley, but he had not a sufficiently intelligent grasp of the Berkelean systen to be an effective critic. The principal ideas in Baxter's Enquiry are the inertness of matter, the duality of matter and mind, and the contention that the cosmos is controlled and directed by a spiritual and immaterial influence. By implication he went the length of believing that the dream-state is due to the influence of spiritual entities outside the human organism. Indeed, he held many of the views common to the later-day spiritualists. The contrast between Andrew Baxter and David Hume is so great that they are like the poles asunder, though they belong to the same school. The former was credulous to a. degree which verged on superstition, while the latter was sceptical to an extent that shocked many of his friends and contemporaries and incurred the antagonism of many of the ablest theologians of the day. However much alarm the Scepticism of Hume may have produced in his own day, there can be no question as to the relative importance of the writings of the two men. The subsequeni influence Baxter's Speculations exercised on the current of Scottish philosophy was so slight as to be almost imperceptible, while those of David Hume were so marked as to influence, directly or indirectly, all subsequent philosophic thought.

David Hume was born in Edinburgh on the 26th April, 1711. His father was a member of the Faculty of Advocates, but

did not practice his profession; preferring to David Ilume,

live the life of a quiet country gentleman, 1711-1776.

though it was in his power to have greatly augumented his moderate income. He died while his son was a. child, hence the education of David was left to his mother, who was a woman of exceptional merit, which she no doubt inherited to some extent from her father, Sir David Falconar, who had the distinction of being the president of the College of Justice. Hume appears to have had a great deal of natural ability and aptitude for study, devoting himself to books, however, without any definite aim for the future, though his means were limited to a degree that would have been a cause for anxiety to many. During the years of his early boyhood his mother was his chief instructor, but between the ages of twelve and fifteen he attended classes at the Edinburgh University, and having little or no desire to secure a degree, he indulged his taste for literature according to his own whim and caprice. It was the desire of his father that his son David should take up law as his profession when he was old enough, and in accordance with his father's wish, he submitted to the initial steps of the proper practical training, but soon discovered that he had a strong dislike to it, which deterred him from pursuing its study and practice. He next took up mercantile life in Bristol, but commerce soon became equally distasteful to him, exercising so depressing an influence that he was seized with melancholia and great dejection of spirit. At the age of twentythree he went to France, and lived some time at La Flêche, a stranger in a strange land, aimlessly wandering about dreaming the dream of his philosophical system. Misfortune, it is said, makes men acquainted with strange bed-fellows, and so it was with David Hume. Having but very limited means, and yearning for sufficient independence to enable him to devote his time and energies to his favourite pursuit, he was under the obligation of becoming the companion or guardian of an insane nobleman. By a strange irony of fate then, this intellectual giant and profound thinker was for a time allied with a mind diseased, which sadlv interfered with his philosophical pursuits, but a more favourable turn to his fortune was near at hand. In 1747 he secured the appointment of Secretary to General St Clair, whom he acconipanied in the expedition to the coast of France and the attack on Port L'Orient, the depót of the French East Indian Company. Next year he accompanied the General in a diplomatic mission to France, during which he gained much useful experience. In travelling through Holland, Germany, and Italy, he took notes of bis impressions which were published in his life and correspondence, and need not be dwelt on here. In 1739, he published the first and second book of his Treatise on Human Nature, which contained the germ, if not the entire principles of his philosophy. In 1741 and 1742, he published two small volumes entitled Essays Moral, and Political, which are written in a clear and attractive style, still ranking among English classics. In 1751, he published his Inquiry into the Principles of Morals, which is considered by some his most original work, and in the following year appeared his Political Discourses, which were most valuable to the Parliamentarian who desired to augment his knowledge on the Science of Government. This work also contained his views on political economy and free trade principles, which were developed in a more comprehensive fashion by his friend, Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations.

Hume's famous Dialogues concerning Natural Religion were not published until after his death, being withheld by the advice of his friends, who thought that their sceptical drift might prejudice the public against his more important plilosophical writings. It is in the opening sentence of the Treatise we get the essence of Hume's Philosophy, where he says “ All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds which I shall call impressions and ideas. The difference betwixt these consists in the degree of force and liveliness with which they strike upon the mind and make their way into our thoughts or consciousness. Those perceptions which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions, and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions as they make their first appearance in the soul.” Taken as a whole there can be no question that Hume's Treatise is a work of great philosophical importance; and, indeed, it has been said by some to be in many ways the most important philosophical work in the English

« PredošláPokračovať »