Francis Hutcheson LLD (; 8 August 1694 – 8 August 1746) was an Ulster-Scot
A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek th ...
Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces. It is made up of nine counties: six of these constitute Northern Ireland (a part of the United K ...
to a family of
Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including:
*Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland
*Scottish national identity, the Scottish ide ... Presbyterians
who became known as one of the founding fathers of the
The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century ...
. He was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University
and is remembered as author of ''A System of Moral Philosophy''.
Hutcheson was an important influence on the works of several significant Enlightenment
thinkers, including David Hume
Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— ...
He is thought to have been born at Drumalig in the parish of
Saintfield () is a village and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is about halfway between Belfast and Downpatrick on the A7 road. It had a population of 3,381 in the 2011 Census, made up mostly of commuters working in both south a ...
, County Down
, in modern-day
Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region. Nort ...
. He was the "son of a Presbyterian minister of Ulster-Scottish
stock, who was born in Ireland" but whose roots were in Ayrshire
[ Rothbard, Murray (24 February 2011]
Francis Hutcheson: Teacher of Adam Smith
Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics, or Mises Institute, is a libertarian nonprofit think tank headquartered in Auburn, Alabama, United States. It is named after the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973).
It w ...'' (excerpted from '' An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought'')
Hutcheson was educated at
Killyleagh (; ) is a village and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is on the A22 road between Belfast and Downpatrick, on the western side of Strangford Lough. It had a population of 2,483 people in the 2001 Census. It is ...
, and went on to Scotland to study at the
University of Glasgow
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, image_size = 150px
, caption = Coat of arms
, latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis
, motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita
, where he spent 1710 to 1718 in the study of
Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such quest ...
Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. In the Western world, classics traditionally refers to the study of Classical Greek and Roman literature and their related original languages, Ancient Greek and Latin. Class ...
Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include o ...
, and afterwards in the study of
Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the ...
, receiving his degree in 1712. While a student, he worked as tutor to the Earl of Kilmarnock
Return to Ireland
Facing suspicions about his "Irish" roots and his association with
The Anti-Burghers were opponents of the Burgher Oath on theological grounds.
History First Secession
In 1733 the First Secession from the Church of Scotland resulted in the creation of the "Associate Presbytery". This church split in 1747 o ...
theologian John Simson
(then under investigation by Scottish ecclesiastical courts), a ministry for him in Scotland was unlikely to be a success, so he returned to Ireland and received a licence to preach. When, however, he was about to enter upon the pastorate of a small dissenting congregation he changed his plans in order to pursue a career in
An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary or tertiary higher learning (and generally also research or honorary membership). The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, f ...
. He was induced to start a private academy in
Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland. On a bay at the mouth of the River Liffey, it is in the province of Leinster, bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. At the 2016 c ...
, where, assisted by Thomas Drennan
, he taught for 10 years.
In Dublin his literary attainments gained him the friendship of many prominent inhabitants. Among these was The Rt. Hon.
and Most Rev. Dr William King
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Kirk o Airlann, ) is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second ... Lord Archbishop of Dublin
, who refused to prosecute Hutcheson in the Archbishop's Court for keeping a school without the episcopal licence. Hutcheson's relations with the clergy of the established church, especially with Archbishop King and with The Rt. Hon.
and Most Rev. Dr Hugh Boulter
, Lord Archbishop of Armagh
, seem to have been cordial, and his biographer, speaking of "the inclination of his friends to serve him, the schemes proposed to him for obtaining promotion", etc., probably refers to some offers of preferment, on condition of his accepting episcopal ordination.
In 1725 Hutcheson married his cousin Mary, daughter of Francis Wilson of Longford. Her
A dowry is a payment, such as property or money, paid by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment ...
included extensive property holdings including the townlands of Drumnacross, Garrinch, and Knockeagh, in County Longford. They had seven children of whom only one survived, also called Francis
While living in Dublin, Hutcheson published anonymously the four essays for which he is best known: in 1725 ''Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony and Design'', and ''Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil'', which together comprise his ''Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue''; and in 1728, the ''Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections'' and ''Illustrations upon the Moral Sense''. The alterations and additions made in the second edition of these essays were published in a separate form in 1726. To the period of his Dublin residence are also to be referred the ''Thoughts on Laughter'' (1725) (a criticism of
Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan'', in which he expounds an influent ...
) and the ''Observations on the Fable of the Bees'', being in all six letters contributed to ''Hibernicus' Letters'', a periodical that appeared in Dublin (1725–1727, 2nd ed. 1734). At the end of the same period occurred the controversy in the ''London Journal'' with Gilbert Burnet (probably the second son
The Rt. Rev.
The Right Reverend (abbreviated The Rt Revd, The Rt Rev'd, The Rt Rev.) is a style applied to certain religious figures.
*In the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church in Great Britain, it applies to bishops, except that ''The ... Dr Gilbert Burnet
, Lord Bishop of Salisbury
) on the "True Foundation of Virtue or Moral Goodness". All these letters were collected in one volume (Glasgow, 1772).
Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow
In 1729, Hutcheson succeeded his old master, Gershom Carmichael
, in the Chair of Moral Philosophy
University of Glasgow
, image = UofG Coat of Arms.png
, image_size = 150px
, caption = Coat of arms
, latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis
, motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita
, being the first professor there to lecture in English instead of Latin.
[ It is curious that up to this time all his essays and letters had been published anonymously, but their authorship appears to have been well known. In 1730, he entered on the duties of his office, delivering an inaugural lecture (afterwards published), ''De naturali hominum socialitate'' (About the natural fellowship of mankind). He appreciated having leisure for his favourite studies; "''non-levi igitur laetitia commovebar cum almam matrem Academiam me, suum olim alumnum, in libertatem asseruisse audiveram''." (I was, therefore, moved by no mean frivolous pleasure when I had heard that my alma mater had delivered me, its one time alumnus, into freedom.) Yet the works on which Hutcheson's reputation rests had already been published. During his time as a lecturer in Glasgow College he taught and influenced ] Adam Smith
Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— ..., the economist and philosopher. " e order of topics discussed in the economic portion of Hutcheson’s System f Moral Philosophy, 1755is repeated by Smith in his Glasgow Lectures and again in the '' Wealth of Nations
''An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'', generally referred to by its shortened title ''The Wealth of Nations'', is the ''magnum opus'' of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1 ...''."
However, it was likely something other than Hutcheson's written work that had such a great influence on Smith. Hutcheson was well regarded as one of the most prominent lecturers at the University of Glasgow in his day and earned the approbation of students, colleagues, and even ordinary residents of Glasgow with the fervour and earnestness of his orations. His roots as a minister indeed shone through in his lectures, which endeavoured not merely to teach philosophy but also to make his students embody that philosophy in their lives (appropriately acquiring the epithet, preacher of philosophy). Unlike Smith, Hutcheson was not a system builder; rather, it was his magnetic personality and method of lecturing that so influenced his students and caused the greatest of those to reverentially refer to him as "the never to be forgotten Hutcheson", a title that Smith in all his correspondence used to describe only two people, his good friend David Hume and influential mentor, Hutcheson.
In addition to the works named, the following were published during Hutcheson's lifetime: a pamphlet entitled ''Considerations on Patronage'' (1735); ''Philosophiae moralis institutio compendiaria, ethices et jurisprudentiae naturalis elementa continens'', lib. iii. (Glasgow, 1742); ''Metaphysicae synopsis ontologiam et pneumatologiam campleciens'' (Glasgow, 1742). The last work was published anonymously. After his death, his son, Francis Hutcheson published much the longest of his works, ''A System of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books'' (2 vols. London, 1755). To this is prefixed a life of the author, by Dr William Leechman, professor of divinity in the University of Glasgow. The only remaining work assigned to Hutcheson is a small treatise on Logic (Glasgow, 1764). This compendium, together with the ''Compendium of Metaphysics'', was republished at Strasbourg in 1722.
Thus Hutcheson dealt with
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of conscio ..., logic
Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating how conclusions follow from premises ... and ethics
Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns ma .... His importance is, however, due almost entirely to his ethical writings, and among these primarily to the four essays and the letters published during his time in Dublin. His standpoint has a negative and a positive aspect; he is in strong opposition to Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan'', in which he expounds an influent ... and Mandeville, and in fundamental agreement with Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury () is a town and civil parish in Dorset, England. It is situated on the A30 road, west of Salisbury, near the border with Wiltshire. It is the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset, being built about above sea level on ..., whose name he very properly coupled with his own on the title page of the first two essays. Obvious and fundamental points of agreement between the two authors include the analogy drawn between beauty and virtue, the functions assigned to the moral sense, the position that the benevolent feelings form an original and irreducible part of our nature, and the unhesitating adoption of the principle that the test of virtuous action is its tendency to promote the general welfare.
According to Hutcheson, man has a variety of senses, internal as well as external, reflex as well as direct, the general definition of a sense being "any determination of our minds to receive ideas independently on our will, and to have perceptions of pleasure and pain" (Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions, sect. 1). He does not attempt to give an exhaustive enumeration of these "senses," but, in various parts of his works, he specifies, besides the five external senses commonly recognized (which he hints might be added to):
Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence. However, the lack of definitions has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguisticians, and scient ..., by which each man has a perception of himself and of all that is going on in his own mind (''Metaph. Syn. pars'' i. cap. 2)
# the sense of beauty (sometimes called specifically "an internal sense")
# a public sense, or ''sensus communis'', "a determination to be pleased with the happiness of others and to be uneasy at their misery"
# the moral sense, or "moral sense of beauty in actions and affections, by which we perceive virtue or vice, in ourselves or others"
# a sense of honour
Honour (British English) or honor (American English; see spelling differences) is the idea of a bond between an individual and a society as a quality of a person that is both of social teaching and of personal ethos, that manifests itself as a ..., or praise and blame, "which makes the approbation or gratitude of others the necessary occasion of pleasure, and their dislike, condemnation or resentment of injuries done by us the occasion of that uneasy sensation called shame"
# a sense of the ridiculous
To be ridiculous is to be something which is highly incongruous or inferior, sometimes deliberately so to make people laugh or get their attention, and sometimes unintendedly so as to be considered laughable and earn or provoke ridicule and derisi .... It is plain, as the author confesses, that there may be "other perceptions, distinct from all these classes," and, in fact, there seems to be no limit to the number of "senses" in which a psychological division of this kind might result.
Of these "senses," the " moral sense" plays the most important part in Hutcheson's ethical system. It pronounces immediately on the character of actions and affections, approving those that are virtuous, and disapproving those that are vicious. "His principal design," he says in the preface to the two first treatises, "is to show that human nature was not left quite indifferent in the affair of virtue, to form to itself observations concerning the advantage or disadvantage of actions, and accordingly to regulate its conduct. The weakness of our reason, and the avocations arising from the infirmity and necessities of our nature, are so great that very few men could ever have formed those long deductions of reasons that show some actions to be in the whole advantageous to the agent, and their contraries pernicious. The Author of nature has much better furnished us for a virtuous conduct than our moralists seem to imagine, by almost as quick and powerful instructions as we have for the preservation of our bodies. He has made virtue a lovely form, to excite our pursuit of it, and has given us strong affections to be the springs of each virtuous action."
Passing over the appeal to final causes involved in this passage, as well as the assumption that the "moral sense" has had no growth or history, but was "implanted" in man exactly as found among the more civilized races (an assumption common to both Hutcheson and Butler), his use of the term "sense" tends to obscure the real nature of the process of moral judgement. For, as established by Hume, this act consists of two parts: an act of deliberation leading to an intellectual judgement; and a reflex feeling of satisfaction at actions we consider good, and of dissatisfaction at those we consider bad. By the intellectual part of this process, we refer the action or habit
A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. to a certain class; but no sooner is the intellectual process complete than there is excited in us a feeling similar to what myriads of actions and habits of (apparently) the same class excited in us on former occasions.
Even if the latter part of this process is instantaneous, uniform and exempt from error, the former is not. All mankind may approve of that which is virtuous or makes for the general good, but they entertain the most widely divergent opinions and frequently arrive at directly opposite conclusions as to particular actions and habits. Hutcheson recognizes this obvious distinction in his analysis of the mental process preceding moral action, and does not ignore it, even when writing on the moral approbation or disapprobation that follows action. Nonetheless, Hutcheson, both by his phraseology and the language he uses to describe the process of moral approbation, has done much to favour that loose, popular view of morality which, ignoring the necessity of deliberation and reflection, encourages hasty resolves and unpremeditated judgements.
The term "moral sense" (which, it may be noticed, had already been employed by Shaftesbury, not only, as William Whewell
William Whewell ( ; 24 May 17946 March 1866) was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In his time as a student there, he achieved dis ... suggests, in the margin, but also in the text of his ''Inquiry''), if invariably coupled with the term "moral judgement," would be open to little objection; but, taken alone, as designating the complex process of moral approbation, it is liable to lead not only to serious misapprehension but to grave practical errors. For, if each person's decisions are solely the result of an immediate intuition of the moral sense, why be at any pains to test, correct or review them? Or why educate a faculty whose decisions are infallible? And how do we account for differences in the moral decisions of different societies, and the observable changes in a person's own views? The expression has, in fact, the fault of most metaphorical terms: it leads to an exaggeration of the truth it is intended to suggest.
But though Hutcheson usually describes the moral faculty as acting instinctively and immediately, he does not, like Butler, conflate the moral faculty with the moral standard. The test or criterion of right action is with Hutcheson, as with Shaftesbury, its tendency to promote the general welfare of mankind. He thus anticipates the utilitarianism of Bentham—and not only in principle, but even in the use of the phrase "the greatest happiness for the greatest number" (''Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil'', sect. 3). Hutcheson does not seem to have seen an inconsistency between this external criterion with his fundamental ethical principle. Intuition has no possible connection with an empirical calculation of results, and Hutcheson in adopting such a criterion practically denies his fundamental assumption. Connected with Hutcheson's virtual adoption of the utilitarian standard is a kind of moral algebra, proposed for the purpose of "computing the morality of actions." This calculus occurs in the ''Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil'', sect. 3.
Hutcheson's other distinctive ethical doctrine is what has been called the "benevolent theory" of morals. Hobbes had maintained that all other actions, however disguised under apparent sympathy, have their roots in self-love
Self-love, defined as "love of self" or "regard for one's own happiness or advantage", has been conceptualized both as a basic human necessity and as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness, synonymous with amour-propre, conceitedness, .... Hutcheson not only maintains that benevolence is the sole and direct source of many of our actions, but, by a not unnatural recoil, that it is the only source of those actions of which, on reflection, we approve. Consistently with this position, actions that flow from self-love only are morally indifferent. But surely, by the common consent of civilized men, prudence, temperance, cleanliness, industry, self-respect and, in general, the personal virtues", are regarded, and rightly regarded, as fitting objects of moral approbation.
This consideration could hardly escape any author, however wedded to his own system, and Hutcheson attempts to extricate himself from the difficulty by laying down the position that a man may justly regard himself as a part of the rational system, and may thus be, in part, an object of his own benevolence (Ibid), a curious abuse of terms, which really concedes the question at issue. Moreover, he acknowledges that, though self-love does not merit approbation, neither, except in its extreme forms, did it merit condemnation, indeed the satisfaction of the dictates of self-love is one of the very conditions of the preservation of society. To press home the inconsistencies involved in these various statement would be a superfluous task.
The vexed question of liberty and necessity appears to be carefully avoided in Hutcheson's professedly ethical works. But, in the ''Synopsis metaphysicae'', he touches on it in three places, briefly stating both sides of the question, but evidently inclining to what he designates as the opinion of the Stoics, in opposition to what he designates as the opinion of the Peripatetics. This is substantially the same as the doctrine propounded by Hobbes and Locke (to the latter of whom Hutcheson refers in a note), namely that our will is determined by motives in conjunction with our general character and habit of mind, and that the only true liberty is the liberty of acting as we will, not the liberty of willing as we will. Though, however, his leaning is clear, he carefully avoids dogmatising, and deprecates the angry controversies to which the speculation on this subject had given rise.
It is easy to trace the influence of Hutcheson's ethical theories on the systems of Hume and Adam Smith
Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— .... The prominence given by these writers to the analysis of moral action and moral approbation with the attempt to discriminate the respective provinces of the reason and the emotions in these processes, is undoubtedly due to the influence of Hutcheson. To a study of the writings of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson we might, probably, in large measure, attribute the unequivocal adoption of the utilitarian standard by Hume, and, if this be the case, the name of Hutcheson connects itself, through Hume, with the names of Priestley, Paley and Bentham. Butler's ''Sermons'' appeared in 1726, the year after the publication of Hutcheson's two first essays, and there are parallels between the "conscience" of the one writer and the "moral sense" of the other.
Francis Hutcheson spent time in Dublin, and died while on a visit to that city in 1746. He is buried in the churchyard of Saint Mary's, which is also the final resting place of his cousin William Bruce. Today Saint Mary's is a public park located in what is now Wolfe Tone Street. Many United Irishmen would have revered the memory of Francis Hutcheson. Some of the leaders of the Dublin United Irishmen are remembered in the street and place-names of the city.
Most Dubliners can direct a visitor to Wolfe Tone Street, Oliver Bond Street, Russell Street, Lord Edward Street and Emmet Road. "Never to be forgotten Hutcheson" lies in what is now an unmarked grave in the Dublin he loved and "where his best work was done".
In the sphere of mental philosophy and
Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating how conclusions follow from premises ..., Hutcheson's contributions are by no means so important or original as in that of moral philosophy. They are interesting mainly as a link between Locke and the Scottish school. In the former subject the influence of Locke is apparent throughout. All the main outlines of Locke's philosophy seem, at first sight, to be accepted as a matter of course. Thus, in stating his theory of the moral sense, Hutcheson is peculiarly careful to repudiate the doctrine of innate ideas (see, for instance, ''Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil'', sect. I ad fin., and sect. 4; and compare ''Synopsis Metaphysicae'', pars i. cap. 2). At the same time he shows more discrimination than does Locke in distinguishing between the two uses of this expression, and between the legitimate and illegitimate form of the doctrine (''Syn. Metaph.'' pars i. cap. 2).
All our ideas are, as by Locke, referred to external or internal sense, or, in other words, to sensation and reflection. It is, however, a most important modification of Locke's doctrine, and connects Hutcheson's mental philosophy with that of Reid, when he states that the ideas of extension, figure, motion and rest "are more properly ideas accompanying the sensations of sight and touch than the sensations of either of these senses"; that the idea of self accompanies every thought, and that the ideas of number, duration and existence accompany every other idea whatsoever (see ''Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions'', sect. i. art. I; ''Syn. Metaph''. pars i. cap. 1, pars ii. cap. I; Hamilton on Reid, p. 124, note). Other important points in which Hutcheson follows the lead of Locke are his depreciation of the importance of the so-called laws of thought, his distinction between the primary and secondary qualities of bodies, the position that we cannot know the inmost essences of things ("''intimae rerum naturae sive essentiae''"), though they excite various ideas in us, and the assumption that external things are known only through the medium of ideas (''Syn. Metaph''. pars i. cap. I), though, at the same time, we are assured of the existence of an external world corresponding to these ideas.
Hutcheson attempts to account for our assurance of the reality of an external world by referring it to a natural instinct (''Syn. Metaph''. pars i. cap. 1). Of the correspondence or similitude between our ideas of the primary qualities of things and the things themselves God alone can be assigned as the cause. This similitude has been effected by Him through a law of nature. "''Haec prima qualitatum primariarum perceptio, sive mentis actio quaedam sive passio dicatur, non-alia similitudinis aut convenientiae inter ejusmodi ideas et res ipsas causa assignari posse videtur, quam ipse Deus, qui certa naturae lege hoc efilcit, Ut notiones, quae rebus praesentibus excitantur, sint ipsis similes, aut saltem earum habitudines, si non-veras quantitates, depingant''" (pars ii. cap. I). Locke does speak of God "annexing" certain ideas to certain motions of bodies; but nowhere does he propound a theory so definite as that here propounded by Hutcheson, which reminds us at least as much of the speculations of Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche ( , ; 6 August 1638 – 13 October 1715) was a French Oratorian Catholic priest and rationalist philosopher. In his works, he sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the ... as of those of Locke.
Amongst the more important points in which Hutcheson diverges from Locke is his account of the idea of personal identity, which he appears to have regarded as made known to us directly by consciousness. The distinction between body and mind, ''corpus'' or ''materia'' and ''res cogitans'', is more emphatically accentuated by Hutcheson than by Locke. Generally, he speaks as if we had a direct consciousness of mind as distinct from body, though, in the posthumous work on ''Moral Philosophy'', he expressly states that we know mind as we know body" by qualities immediately perceived though the substance of both be unknown (bk. i. ch. 1). The distinction between perception proper and sensation proper, which occurs by implication though it is not explicitly worked out (see Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, – Lect. 24).
Hamilton's edition of Dugald Stewart
Dugald Stewart (; 22 November 175311 June 1828) was a Scottish philosopher and mathematician. Today regarded as one of the most important figures of the later Scottish Enlightenment, he was renowned as a populariser of the work of Francis Hu ...'s Works, v. 420 (the imperfection of the ordinary division of the external senses into two classes, the limitation of consciousness to a special mental faculty) (severely criticized in Sir W Hamilton's ''Lectures on Metaphysics'' Lect. xii.) and the disposition to refer on disputed questions of philosophy not so much to formal arguments as to the testimony of consciousness and our natural instincts are also amongst the points in which Hutcheson supplemented or departed from the philosophy of Locke. The last point can hardly fail to suggest the "common-sense philosophy" of Reid.
Thus, in estimating Hutcheson's position, we find that in particular questions he stands nearer to Locke, but in the general spirit of his philosophy he seems to approach more closely to his Scottish successors.
The short ''Compendium of Logic'', which is more original than such works usually are, is remarkable chiefly for the large proportion of psychological matter that it contains. In these parts of the book Hutcheson mainly follows Locke. The technicalities of the subject are passed lightly over, and the book is readable. It may be specially noticed that he distinguishes between the mental result and its verbal expression judgment-proposition, that he constantly employs the word "idea," and that he defines logical truth as "''convenientia signorum cum rebus significatis''" (or "''propositionis convenientia cum rebus ipsis''," ''Syn. Metaph.'' pars i. cap. 3), thus implicitly repudiating a merely formal view of logic.
Hutcheson may further be regarded as one of the earliest modern writers on
Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines aesthetic values, often expressed th .... His speculations on this subject are contained in the ''Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony and Design'', the first of the two treatises published in 1725. He maintains that we are endowed with a special sense by which we perceive beauty, harmony and proportion. This is a reflex sense, because it presupposes the action of the external senses of sight and hearing. It may be called an internal sense, both to distinguish its perceptions from the mere perceptions of sight and hearing, and because "in some other affairs, where our external senses are not much concerned, we discern a sort of beauty, very like in many respects to that observed in sensible objects, and accompanied with like pleasure" (''Inquiry'', etc., sect. 1, XI). The latter reason leads him to call attention to the beauty perceived in universal truths, in the operations of general causes and in moral principles and actions. Thus, the analogy between beauty and virtue, which was so favourite a topic with Shaftesbury, is prominent in the writings of Hutcheson also. Scattered up and down the treatise there are many important and interesting observations that our limits prevent us from noticing. But to the student of mental philosophy it may be specially interesting to remark that Hutcheson both applies the principle of association to explain our ideas of beauty and also sets limits to its application, insisting on there being "a natural power of perception or sense of beauty in objects, antecedent to all custom, education or example" (see Inquiry, etc., sects. 6, 7; Hamilton's ''Lectures on Metaphysics'', Lect. 44 .).
Hutcheson's writings gave rise to much controversy. To say nothing of minor opponents, such as "Philaretus" (Gilbert Burnet, already alluded to), Dr John Balguy (1686–1748), prebendary of Salisbury, the author of two tracts on "The Foundation of Moral Goodness", and Dr John Taylor (1694–1761) of Norwich, a minister of considerable reputation in his time (author of ''An Examination of the Scheme of Amorality advanced by Dr Hutcheson''), the essays appear to have suggested, by antagonism, at least two works that hold a permanent place in the literature of English ethics—Butler's ''Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue'', and Richard Price
Richard Price (23 February 1723 – 19 April 1791) was a British moral philosopher, Nonconformist minister and mathematician. He was also a political reformer, pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the French ...'s ''Treatise of Moral Good and Evil'' (1757). In this latter work the author maintains, in opposition to Hutcheson, that actions are – in themselves right or wrong, that right and wrong are simple ideas incapable of analysis, and that these ideas are perceived immediately by the understanding. We thus see that, not only directly but also through the replies that it called forth, the system of Hutcheson, or at least the system of Hutcheson combined with that of Shaftesbury, contributed, in large measure, to the formation and development of some of the most important of the later schools of ethics.
Later scholarly mention
References to Hutcheson occur in histories, both of general philosophy and of moral philosophy, as, for instance, in pt. vii. of Adam Smith's ''Theory of Moral Sentiments'';
The Mackintosh or raincoat (abbreviated as mac) is a form of waterproof raincoat, first sold in 1824, made of rubberised fabric.
The Mackintosh is named after its Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh, although many writers added a letter ''k ...'s ''Progress of Ethical Philosophy''; Cousin, ''Cours d'histoire de la philosophie morale du XVIII' siècle''; Whewell's ''Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England''; A Bain's ''Mental and Moral Science''; Noah Porter
Noah Thomas Porter III (December 14, 1811 – March 4, 1892)''Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University'', Yale University, 1891-2, New Haven, pp. 82-83. was an American Congregational minister, academic, philosopher, author, lexicographer a ...'s Appendix to the English translation of Ueberweg's ''History of Philosophy''; Sir Leslie Stephen's ''History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Gentury'', etc. See also Martineau, ''Types of Ethical Theory'' (London, 1902); WR Scott, ''Francis Hutcheson'' (Cambridge, 1900); Albee, ''History of English Utilitarianism'' (London, 1902); T Fowler, ''Shaftesbury and Hutcheson'' (London, 1882); J McCosh, ''Scottish Philosophy'' (New York, 1874). Of Dr Leechman's Biography of Hutcheson we have already spoken. J. Veitch gives an interesting account of his professorial work in Glasgow, ''Mind'', ii. 209–12.
Influence in Colonial America
Norman Fiering, a specialist in the intellectual history of colonial New England, has described Francis Hutcheson as "probably the most influential and respected moral philosopher in America in the eighteenth century". Hutcheson's early ''Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue'', introducing his perennial association of " unalienable rights" with the collective right to resist oppressive government, was used at Harvard College as a textbook as early as the 1730s. In 1761, Hutcheson was publicly endorsed in the annual semi-official Massachusetts Election Sermon as "an approved writer on ethics." Hutcheson's ''Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy'' was used as a textbook at the
College of Philadelphia
The Academy and College of Philadelphia (1749-1791) was a boys' school and men's college in Philadelphia, Colony of Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1749 by a group of local notables that included Benjamin Franklin, the Academy of Philadelphia began as ... in the 1760s. Francis Alison, the professor of moral philosophy at the College of Philadelphia, was a former student of Hutcheson who closely followed Hutcheson's thought. Alison's students included "a surprisingly large number of active, well-known patriots", including three signers of the Declaration of Independence, who "learned their patriotic principles from Hutcheson and Alison". Another signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon
John Witherspoon (February 5, 1723 – November 15, 1794) was a Scottish Americans, Scottish-American Presbyterian minister, educator, farmer, slaveholder, and a Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father of the United States. Wither ... of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), relied heavily on Hutcheson's views in his own lectures on moral philosophy.
John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Befor ... read Hutcheson's ''Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy'' shortly after graduating from Harvard. Garry Wills argued in 1978 that the phrasing of the Declaration of Independence was due largely to Hutcheson's influence, but Wills's work suffered a scathing rebuttal from Ronald Hamowy. Wills' view has been partially supported by Samuel Fleischacker, who agreed that it is "perfectly reasonable to see Hutcheson’s influence behind the appeals to sentiment that Jefferson put into his draft of the Declaration..."
Selected other works
* ''Reflections Upon Laughter: And REMARKS UPON The FABLE of the BEES.'' – Garland Publishing, 1750Google Books
* List of abolitionist forerunners
Contains versions of Origin of ideas of Beauty etc. and of Virtue etc., slightly modified for easier reading
Francis Hutcheson Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article
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