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James McCosh

James McCosh (April 1, 1811 - November 16, 1894), Scottish philosophical writer, was born of a Covenanting family in Ayrshire.

He studied at Glasgow and Edinburgh, receiving at the latter university his M.A., at the suggestion of Sir William Hamilton, for an essay on the Stoic philosophy. He became a minister of the Established Church of Scotland, first at Arbroath and then at Brechin[?], and took part in the Free Church movement of 1843.

In 1852 he was appointed professor of logic and metaphysics in Queen's College, Belfast[?]; and in 1868 was chosen president and professor of philosophy of the college of New Jersey, at Princeton. He resigned the presidency in 1888, but continued as lecturer on philosophy till his death.

He was most successful in college administration, a good lecturer and an effective preacher. His general philosophical attitude and method were Hamiltonian he insisted on severing religious and philosophical data from merely physical, and though he added little to original thought he clearly, restated and vigorously used the conclusions of others. In his controversial writings he often failed to understand the real significance of the views which he attacked, and much of his criticism is superficial.

His chief works are:

  • Method of Divine Government, Physical and Moral (Edinburgh, 1850, 5th ed., 1856, and frequently republished in New York)
  • The Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation (Edinburgh, 1855; new editions, New York, 1871-1880)
  • Intuitions of the Mind inductively investigated (London and New York, 1860; 3rd rev. ed., 1872)
  • An Examination of Mr J. S. Mill's Philosophy (London and New York, 1866; enlarged 1871, several eds.)
  • Philosophical Papers containing (1)"Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's Logic," (2)"Reply to Mr Mill's third edition," and (3) "Present State of Moral Philosophy in Britain."
  • Religious Aspects of Evolution (New York, 1888, 2nd ed., 1890). For a complete list of his writings see JH Dulles, McCosh Bibliography (Princeton, 1895).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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