Thursday, March 28, 2013

03/28/13 -Thomas Brown

In short, both division and unanimity are present within 18th  century Scottish philosophy, unanimity with respect to aim—a science of mind—and division with respect to method—the “principles of common sense” versus “the way of ideas”. … In the 19th century the  agenda was dominated by the “science of mind” more narrowly conceived, that is to say logic (i.e., the philosophy of truth and reason) and the philosophy of perception. Consequently, from 1810 onwards, when Thomas Brown (1778–1820) took up the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh, the story of Scottish philosophy is that of repeated attempts to resolve the tension that lay within that “science”. …Brown died prematurely, but he was a prolific writer from an early age and left behind voluminous lectures. These lectures caused a stir in part because they were critical of Reid (though on certain issues Brown may be said to side with Reid against Hume). On publication they were widely and rapturously received, and ran through a great many editions, both in Britain and America, before falling into almost total neglect by 1850. Perhaps their most enduring effect on the debate arose from the re-interpretation and defence of Reid that they induced on the part of the most prominent philosopher of the period—Sir William Hamilton [stanford]. Brown's philosophy occupies an intermediate place between the earlier Scottish school and the later analytical or associational psychology, to which he really belonged. He still retained a small quantum of intuitive beliefs, and did not appear to see that the very existence of these could not be explained by his theory of mental action. This accounts for the comparative neglect into which his works have now fallen .[wikipedia]. 

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