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The Trojan Horse of the Scottish Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2007

James Somerville
University of Hull


James McCosh considered his product of ‘a labor of love’, The Scottish Philosophy, Biographical, Expository, Critical, From Hutcheson To Hamilton to fall within ‘what may be regarded as a new department of science, the history of thought’. The value of the book lies, therefore, in not just its outlines of works of philosophers of the period with the views afforded of the academic life most of them led; but its sense—albeit unsure—that ‘the Scottish school of philosophy’ (1) after its rise evolved into something less distinctive, more commonplace philosophically. McCosh could not admit that the school had declined. Noting the change, he barely hints at why it happened. The explanation, it will be argued, involves the central place assigned to belief in the doctrines of the school, so is of current interest given the undue prominence belief continues to be accorded by philosophers.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2007

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