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Philosophical Works of James Frederick Ferrier

Philosophical Works of James Frederick Ferrier
Philosophical Works of the late James Frederick Ferrier (ed.) A. Grant & E.L. Lushington (Bristol: Thoemmes, 2001) Three volumes.
with new introduction by John Haldane.

James Frederick Ferrier (1808-64) was a Scottish metaphysician and Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. His contribution to philosophy during the late 19th-century was considerable, though often overlooked, and his 3-volume “Philosophical Works” provide the opportunity to re-examine the collected writings and lectures of one of the most intriguing British philosophers of the 19th century. Published posthumously in 1875, the “Works” were edited by Ferrier’s son-in-law, Sir Alexander Grant, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and Edmund Law Lushington, Professor of Greek at the University of Glasgow. Ferrier’s work illustrates the transition within 19th-century Scottish philosophy from the tradition of Common Sense realism founded by Thomas Reid to versions of realism influenced by Hegel. Critical of the doctrines and methods of the Scottish School of Common Sense, Ferrier was responsible for the establishment of an innovative Scottish philosophical and literary movement, and developed his own system of idealism by importing Hegelian ideas into British thought. As De Quincey said, Ferrier’s philosophy is “German philosophy refreacted through a Scottish Medium”. He is also credited with originating the term “epistemology”. Interesting parallels can be seen between his arguments and those advanced by modern critics of metaphysical realism such as Michael Dummett and Hilary Putnam.

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