Berkeley's Impact on Scottish Philosophers

Philosophy 40 (153):222 - 234 (1965)
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In 1728, when the sixteen-year-old Hume, still apparently ‘at college’, was beginning, all unknown to his family, to turn his attention to philosophy, Edinburgh and Glasgow were swarming with earnest metaphysicians, many of them not much older than Hume himself. ‘It is well known’, the Ochtertyre papers relate, ‘that between the years 1723 and 1740 nothing was in more request with the Edinburgh literati, both laical and clerical, than metaphysical disquisitions’, and Locke, Clarke, Butler and Berkeley are mentioned as the chief subjects for debate. Moreover, it is clear enough from the records that this surge of intellectual interests was chiefly the work of a younger generation, wearied alike of Calvinist theology and of Jacobite politics. Indeed to begin with it was the students’ societies which took the lead, and a plain enough hint of their serious critical attack is given in one sour entry in the diary of the Calvinist minister Woodrow for 1726. ‘These student clubs are like to have a very ill influence; they declare against reading and cry up thinking.’.



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