Article ID: CBB835437196

The Reception of ‘That Bigoted Silly Fellow’ James Beattie's Essay on Truth in Britain 1770–1830 (2015)


This article examines the Scottish philosopher James Beattie's (1735–1803) controversial work of moral philosophy An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth (1770), noted for its pugnacious attack on the sceptical philosophy of David Hume. Usually treated only as an ephemeral success in the early 1770s, the Essay actually had two distinct periods of enormous popularity that account for its contemporary significance in the period between 1770 and 1830. The prominence of the Essay is demonstrated by its widespread positive reception, evinced in both published and private responses, in both England and Scotland, by the high estimation in which it was held within pedagogical circles as an anti-sceptical philosophical primer, and by its continual use as a textbook in both university and dissenting academy logic and moral philosophy classes. In these senses, Beattie's Essay was arguably the most significant work of the Common Sense School of Scottish philosophy.

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Authors & Contributors
Davie, George Elder
Wood, Paul B.
Sher, Richard B.
MacDonald, Fiona A.
Wright, John P.
Stewart, M. A.
Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
History of Psychiatry
British Journal for the History of Science
Journal of the History of Ideas
University of Rochester Press
Pennsylvania State University Press
Pickering & Chatto
Philosophy of science
Moral philosophy
Hume, David
Reid, Thomas
Stewart, Dugald
Beattie, James
Hamilton, William Rowan
Brown, Thomas
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
17th century
20th century
20th century, early
United States
Great Britain
Birmingham (England)
Aberdeen University

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