1902 Encyclopedia > Francis Hutcheson

Francis Hutcheson
Irish philosopher
(1694-1746)




FRANCIS HUTCHESON, (1694-1746),an eminent writer on mental and moral philosophy, was born on the 8 th of August 1694. His birthplace was probably the townland of Drumalig, in the parish of Saintfield and county of Down, Ireland. Though the family had sprung from Ayr-shire in Scotland, both his father and grandfather were ministers of dissenting congregations in the north of Ireland. Young Hntcheson was educated partly by his grandfather, partly at an academy, where he is stated by his biographer, Dr Leechman, to have been taught " the ordinary scholastic philosophy which was in vogue in those days." In the year 1710, at the age of sixteen, he entered the university of Glasgow, where he spent the next six years of his life, at first in the study of philosophy, classics, and general literature, and afterwards in the study of theology. On quitting the university, he returned to the north of Ireland, received a licence to preach, and was just on the point of settling down as the minister of a small dissenting congre-gation, when it was suggested to him by some gentlemen living in the neighbourhood of Dublin to start a private academy in that city. At Dublin his literary accomplish-ments soon made him generally known, and he appears to have rapidly formed the acquaintance of the more notable persons, lay and ecclesiastical, who then resided in the metropolis of Ireland. Among these is specially to be noted Archbishop King, author of the well-known work De Origine Mali, who, to his great honour, steadily resisted all attempts to prosecute Hutcheson in the archbishop's court for keeping a school without having previously sub-scribed to the ecclesiastical canons and obtained the epis-copal licence. Hutcheson's relations with the clergy of the Established Church, especially with the archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, Boulter and King, seem to have been of the most cordial description; and " the inclination of his friends to serve him, the schemes proposed to him for obtaining promotion," &c, of which his biographer speaks, probably refer to some offers of preferment, on condition of his accepting episcopal ordination. These offers, how-ever, of whatever nature they might be, were unavailing ; " neither the love of riches nor of the elegance and grandeur of human life prevailed so far in his breast as to make him offer the least violence to his inward sentiments."
While residing in Dublin, Hutcheson published anonymously the four essays by which he still remains best known, namely, the Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design, and the Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, in 1725, and the Essay on the Nature and Con-duct of the Passions and Affections, and Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, in 1728. The original title of the former work (which reached a second edition in the next year) was— An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue in two Treatises, in which the Principles of the late Earl of Shaftesbury are explained and defended against the Author of the Fable of the Bees ; and the Ideas of Moral Good and Evil are established, according to the Sentiments of the Ancient Moralists, with an attempt to introduce a Mathematical Calculation on subjects of Morality. 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" (a criticism of Hobbes) and the " Observations on the Fable of the Bees," being in all six letters contributed to Hibernicus' Letters, a periodical which appeared in Dublin, 1725-27 (2d ed., 1734). At the end of the same period occurred the controversy in the columns of the London Journal with Mr Gilbert Burnet (probably the second son of Dr Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury), on the " True Foundation of Virtue or Moral Goodness." All these letters were collected in one volume, and published by Foulis, Glasgow, 1772.
In 1729 Hutcheson was elected as the successor of his old master, Gerschom Carmichael, to the chair of moral philosophy in the university of Glasgow. It is curious that up to this time both his essays and letters had all been published anonymously, though their authorship appears to have been perfectly well known. In 1730 he entered on. the duties of his office, delivering an inaugural lecture (afterwards published), De Naturali Hominum Socialitate. The prospect of being delivered from the miscellaneous drudgery of school work, and of securing increased leisure for the pursuit of his favourite studies, occasions an almost boisterous outburst of joy :—" laboriosissimis, mihi, atque molestissimis negotiis implicito, exigua admodum erant ad bonas literas aut mentem colendam otia; non levi igitur lsetitia commovebar cum almam matrem Academiam me, suum olim alumnum, in libertatem asseruisse audiveram." And yet the works on which Hutcheson's reputation was to rest had already been published.
The rest of Hutcheson's life, down to his death in 1746, was mainly spent in the assiduous performance of the duties of his professorship, including, of course, the prepara-tion of lectures for his classes. His reputation as a teacher attracted many young men, belonging to dissenting families, from England and Ireland, and he appears to have enjoyed a well-deserved popularity among both his pupils and his colleagues. Though somewhat quick-tempered, he was remarkable for his warm feelings and generous impulses. " He was all benevolence and affection," says Dr Leechman ; " none who saw him could doubt of it; his air and countenance bespoke it. It was to such a degree his prevailing temper that it gave a tincture to his writings, which were perhaps as much dictated by his heart as his head; and if there was any need of an apology for the stress that in his scheme seems to be laid upon the friendly and public affec:

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tions, the prevalance of them in his own temper would at least form an amiable one."
In addition to the works already named, the following were published during Huteheson's lifetime:—a pamphlet 1 entitled Considerations on Patronage, addressed to the Gentlemen of Scotland, 1735 ; Philosophice Moralis Insti-tutio Compendiaria, Ethices et Jurisprudential Naturalis Elementa continens, Lib. III., Glasgow, Foulis, 1742; Metaphysicce Synopsis Ontologiam et Pneuniatologiam com-plectens, Glasgow, Foulis, 1742. The last work was published anonymously.
After his death, his son, Francis Hutcheson, M.D., published in two volumes, quarto, what is much the longest, though by no means the most interesting, of his works, A System of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books, 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 that we are able to assign to Hutcheson is a small treatise on Logic, which, | according to his biographer, was " not designed for the public eye," but which was published by Foulis at Glasgow j in 1764. This compendium, together with the Compendium of Metaphysics, was republished at Strasburg in 1772.
Of all these works, however, those alone on which Huteheson's philosophical reputation rests are the four essays, and perhaps the letters, all published during his residence in Dublin. To the more distinctive features of his philo-sophical system, so far as they may be gathered from these and his other works, we now proceed to draw attention. In the publication of the first two essays, Hutcheson acted quite rightly in connecting his name on the title-page with that of Shaftesbury. There are no two names, perhaps, in the history of English moral philosophy, which stand in a closer connexion. 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 adop-tion of the principle that the test of virtuous action is its tendency to promote the general welfare, or good of the whole, are at once obvious and fundamental points of agreement between the two authors.
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 inde-pendently 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 rightly hints, might be added to),—(1) consciousness, by which each man has a perception of himself and of all that is going on in his own mind ("Sensus quidam internns, aut conscientia, cujus ope nota sunt ea omnia, quae in mente geruntur ; hac animi vi se novit quisque, suique sensum habet," Metaph. Syn., pars i. cap. 2) ; (2) the sense of beauty (sometimes called specifically "an internal sense"); (3) a public sense, or sensus communis, '' a determination to be pleased with the happiness of others and to be uneasy at their misery ; " (4) the moral sense, or "moral sense of beauty in actions and affections, by which we perceive virtue or vice, in ourselves or others ; " (5) a sense of honour, 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"; (6) a sense of the ridiculous. 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" that which plays the most important part in Huteheson's ethical system is the '' moral sense." It is this which pronounces immediately on the character of actions and affections, approving of those which are virtuous, and disapproving of those which are vicious. '' His principal design," he says in the pre-face 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 reason, which show some actions to be in the whole advantageous to the agent, and their con-traries 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 pre-servation 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 and similar passages, as well as the assump-tion that the "moral sense " has had no growth or history, but was "implanted" in man exactly in the condition in which it is now to be found among the more civilized races, an assumption common to the systems of both Hutcheson and Butler, it may be remarked that the employment of the term "sense" to designate the approving or disapproving faculty has a tendency to obscure the real nature of the process which goes on in an act of moral approbation or dis-approbation. For, as is so clearly established by Hume, this act really consists of two parts :—one an act of deliberation, more or less prolonged, resulting in an intellectual judgment; the other a reflex feeling, probably instantaneous, of either satisfaction or repugnance, —of satisfaction at actions of a certain class which we denominate as good or virtuous, of dissatisfaction or repugnance at actions ot another class which we denominate as bad or vicious. By the in-tellectual part of this process we refer the action or habit to a certain class, and invest it with certain characteristics ; but no sooner is the intellectual process completed than there is excited in us a feeling similar to that which myriads of actions and habits of the same class, or deemed to be of the same class, have excited in us on former occasions. Now, supposing the latter part of this process to be instantaneous, uniform, and exempt from error, the former cer: tainly is not. All mankind may, apart from their selfish interests, approve of that which is virtuous or makes for the general good, but surely they entertain the most widely divergent opinions, and, if left to their own judgment, would frequently arrive at directly opposite conclusions as to the nature of the particular actions and habits which fall under this class. This distinction is undoubtedly recognized by Hutcheson, as it could hardly fail to be, in his analysis of the mental process preceding moral action, nor does he invariably ignore it, even when treating of the moral approbation or disapprobation which is subsequent on action. Witness the follow-ing passages :—" Men have reason given them, to judge of the ten-dencies of their actions, that they may not stupidly follow the first appearance of public good ; but it is still some appearance of good which they pursue" (Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 4). "All exciting reasons presuppose instincts and affections ; and the justifying presuppose a moral sense" (Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, sect. 1). "When we say one is obliged to an action, we either mean—(1) that the action is necessary to obtain happiness to the agent, or to avoid misery ; or (2) that every spectator, or he himself upon reflexion, must approve his action, and disapprove his omitting it, if he considers fully all its circumstances. The former meaning of tire word obligation presupposes selfish affections, and the sense of private happiness ; the latter meaning includes the moral sense" (Ibid.). Notwithstanding these passages, however, it remains true that Hutcheson, both by the phrases which he employs to designate the moral faculty, and by the language in which he ordinarily describes the process of moral approbation, has done much to favour that loose and popular view of morality which, ignoring, the difficulties that often attend our moral decisions, and the neces-sity of deliberation and reflexion, encourages hasty resolves and unpremeditated judgments. The term "moral sense" (which, it may be noticed, had already been employed by Shaftesbury, not only, as Dr Whewell appears to intimate in the margin, but also in the text of his Enquiry), if invariably coupled with the term " moral judgment," 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 man'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 ? The expression has, in fact, the fault of most metaphorical terms ; it leads to an exaggeration of the truth which it is intended to suggest.
But though Hutcheson usually describes the moral faculty as acting instinctively and immediately, he does not, like Butler, con-found 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. " In com-paring the moral qualities of actions, in order to regulate our elec-tion among various actions proposed, or to find which of them has the greatest moral excellency, we are led by our moral sense of virtue to judge thus—that, in equal degrees of happiness expected to proceed from the action, the virtue is in proportion to the num-' ber of persons to whom the happiness shall extend (and here the i dignity or moral importance of persons may compensate numbers), I and, in equal numbers, the virtue is as the quantity of the happi-

ness or natural good ; or that the virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of good and number of enjoyers. In the same manner, the moral evil, or vice, is as the degree of misery and number of sufferers : so that that action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers, and that worst which, in like manner, occasions misery" (Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 3). What was subsequently called the utilitarian standard is here unhesitatingly adopted by Hutcheson ; and it is curious to notice that he actually employs the very phrase which became so celebrated in the mouth of Bentham, though afterwards reduced by that writer to the more simple expression "greatest happiness."
The adoption of an external standard, requiring much care and reflexion in its application, ought to have led Hutcheson to see that the moral faculty, by which the standard was to be applied, is by no means so simple and instinctive as he imagined it to be, and that, consequently, these two parts of his system are in reality in-consistent.
As connected with Hutcheson's virtual adoption of the utilitarian standard, may be noticed 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.
The most distinctive of Hutcheson's ethical doctrines, still remain-ing to be noticed, is what has been called the "benevolent theory" of morals. Hobbes had maintained that all our actions, however disguised under apparent sympathy, have their roots in self-love. Hutcheson not only maintains that benevolence is the sole and direct source of many of our actions, but, by a not unnatural recoil from the repellent doctrine of Hobbes, that it is the only source of those actions of which, on reflexion, we approve. "If we examine all the actions which are accounted amiable anywhere, and inquire into the grounds upon which they are approved, we shall find that, in the opinion of the person who approves them, they always appear as benevolent, or flowing from love of others and a study of their happiness, whether the approver be one of the persons beloved or profited or not; so that all those kind affections which incline us to make others happy, and all actions supposed to flow from such affec-tions, appear morally good, if, while they are benevolent toward some persons, they be not pernicious to others. Nor shall we find anything amiable in any action whatsoever, where there is no benevolence imagined ; nor in any disposition, or capacity, which is not supposed applicable to and designed for benevolent purposes " (Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 3). Consistently with this position, actions which flow from self-love only are pro-nounced to be morally indifferent: "The actions which flow solely from self-love, and yet evidence no want of benevolence, having no hurtful effects upon others, seem perfectly indifferent in a moral sense, and neither raise the love or hatred of the observer" (Ibid.). But surely, by the common consent of civilized men, prudence, temperance, cleanliness, industry, self-respect, and in general, the "personal virtues," as they are called, 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. More-over, he acknowledges that, though self-love does not merit approba-tion, neither, except in its extreme forms, does it merit condemna-tion. '' We do not positively condemn those as evil who will not sacrifice their private interest to the advancement of the positive good of others, unless the private interest be very small, and the public good very great" (Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, sect. 6). The satisfaction of the dictates of self-love, too, is one of the very conditions of the preservation of society. " Self-love is really as necessary to the good of the whole as benevolence,—as that attrac-tion which causes the cohesion of the parts is as necessary to the regular state of the whole as gravitation." (Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 17). To press home the inconsistencies involved in these various statements would be a superfluous task.
Hutcheson's benevolent view of human nature is illustrated also by his denying that malevolence is an original principle in the con-stitution of man. "Perhaps our nature is not capable of desiring the misery of any being calmly, farther than it may be necessary to the safety of the innocent; we may find, perhaps, that there is no quality in any object which would excite in us pure disinterested malice, or calm desire of misery for its own sake " (On the Nature and Conduct of the Passions, sect. 3). Against this position of Hutcheson, propounded also by Butler (Serm. ix.), it might be objected that, even amongst very young children, we often find a singular and precocious love of cruelty. This is, undoubtedly, one of the most curious facts in moral psychology, but it may perhaps be accounted for by supposing it to originate in a combination of morbid curiosity with an equally morbid love of power.
The vexed question of liberty and necessity appears to be carefully avoided in Hutcheson's professedly ethical works. But, in the
Synopsis Metaphysical, he touches on it in no less than three places, briefly stating both sides of the question, but evidently inclining to that which 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 dogmatizing, and speaks of the difficulty as "ardua qusestio," "quaestio vexatissima, quae doctorum et piorum ingénia semper torserat, atque de qua utrinque frustra ad sensum cujusque internum provoeatur," earnestly deprecating the angry controversies and bitter dissensions to which the speculations on this subject had given rise.
If our limits allowed us sufficient space, it would be easy to trace the influence of Hutcheson's ethical theories on the systems of Hume and Adam Smith. 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 the parallelism between the " conscience " of the one writer and the ' ' moral sense " of the other is, at least, worthy of remark.
In the sphere of mental philosophy and logic, Hutcheson's con-tributions are by no means so important or original as in that of moral philosophy. 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. 1 ad fin., and sect. 4 ; and com-pare Synopsis Metaphysicce, pars i. cap. 2). At the same time, it may be noticed that 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 reflexion (see, for instance, Syn. Metaph., pars i. cap. 1 ; Logical Compend., pars. i. cap. 1; System of Moral Philosophy, book i. ch. 1). It is, however, a most important modification of Locke's doctrine, and one which 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 num-ber, duration, and existence accompany every other idea whatsoever (see Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions, sect. i. art. 1 ; Syn. Metaph., pars i. cap. 1, pars ii. cap. 1 ; 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 ex-ternal things are known only through the medium of ideas (Syn. Metaph., pars i. cap. 1), 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 ( ' ' Idearum plurimas ad res externas, tanquam earundem imagines aut reprae-sentationes, referre cogimur ab ipsa natura," 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 primari-arum perceptio, sive mentis actio quaedam sive passio dicatur ; non alia similitudinis aut convenientioe inter ejusmodi ideas et res ipsas causa assignari posse videtur, quam ipse Deus, qui certa naturae lege hoc efficit, ut notiones, quae rebus praesentibus excitantur, sint ipsis similes, aut saltern earum habitudines, si non veras quantitates, depingant" (pars ii. cap. 1). Locke had repeatedly stated that "the primary qualities of bodies are resemblances of them, and their patterns do really exist in the bodies themselves" (see, for instance, Essay, bk. ii. ch. 8, sect. 15), and he also speaks of God "annexing" certain ideas to certain motions of bodies (Ibid., sect. 13, and elsewhere) ; but nowhere, we believe, does he propound a theory so precise and definite as that here propounded by Hutche-son, which reminds us at least as much of the speculations of Malebranche 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 conscious-ness. "Mentem suam eandem manere, sibi conscius est quisque, repetentiailla, sive perceptione interna, certissima, ast ineffabili, qua novit suam mentem a mente quavis alia omnino diversam esse" I [Syn. Mctaph., pars. i. cap. 3). 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 (see, for instance, Syn. Metaph., pars ii. cap. 3), though, in the posthumous work on Moral Philosophy, he expressly states that We know mind as we know body " by qualities immediately per-ceived though the substance of both be unknown" (bk. i. eh. 1). The distinction between perception proper and sensation proper, which occurs by implication though it is not explicitly worked j out (see Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, Lect. 24 ; Hamilton's edition of Dugald Stewart's Works, vol. v. p. 420), the imperfection of the ordinary division of the external senses into five 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 (" ad gravissima qusedam in philosophia dogmata amplectenda, non argumentis aut ratiocinationibus, ex rerum perspecta natura petitis, sed potius sensu quodam interno, usu, atque naturae impulsu quodam aut instinctu ducimur," pars ii. cap. 3) are also amongst the points in which Hutcheson supple-mented or departed from the philosophy of Locke. The last point can hardly fail to suggest to our readers the '' common-sense philosophy" of Reid, and here it may be remarked that the interest attaching to Hutcheson's psychological and metaphysical views consists very largely in the intermediate position which they occupy between the system of Locke and that of Reid and the later Scottish school. If we confine ourselves to merely enumerat-ing detached questions, he perhaps 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 chiefly remarkable for the large proportion of psychological matter which 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 eminently readable. It may be specially noticed that he distinguishes between the mental result and its verbal expression [idea—term; judgment—proposition], that he constantly employs the word "idea," and that he defines logical truth as '' convenientia signorum cum rebus signifieatis" (or " pro-positionis convenientia cum rebus ipsis," Syn. Metaph., pars i. cap. 3), thus implicitly repudiating a merely formal view of logic.
Hutcheson may claim to have been one of the earliest modern writers on aesthetics. 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 pre-supposes the action of the external senses of sight and hearing. It may be called an internal sense, both in order 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, &c, sect. 1). 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, becomes also prominent in the writings of Hutcheson. Scattered up and down the treatise, there are many important and interesting observations which 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, &c, sects. 6,7; Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, Lect. 44 ad fin.).
Hutcheson's writings gave rise, as they could hardly fail to do, to much controversy among those who were interested in ethical speculations. To say nothing of minor opponents, such as " Philaretus" (Mr Gilbert Burnet, already alluded to), Dr John Balguy, author of two tracts on The Foundation of Moral Goodness, and Dr John Taylor of Norwich, a Presbyterian minister of considerable reputation in his time, the essays appear to have suggested, by antagonism, at least two works which hold a permanent place in the literature of English ethics. One of these is Butler's Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue, which is, throughout, a sriticism of the main positions maintained by Hutcheson. The other is an answer of a far more complete and systematic character, Dr Richard Price's Treatise of Moral Good and Evil, which first appeared in 1757. In this work, the author maintains, in opposition to Hutcheson, that actions are in themselves right or wrong (an ambiguous expression, which he is not sufficiently careful to explain), that right and wrong are simple ideas incapable of analysis, and that these ideas are per-ceived immediately by the understanding. Price's work is remark-able for the close similarity between many of the ideas and even expressions contained in it and those which subsequently became so celebrated in the speculations of Kant. We thus see that, not only by its direct but also by its indirect influence, through the replies which it called forth, the system of Hutcheson, or at least the system of Hutcheson combined with that of Shaftesbury, may be regarded as having contributed, in very large measure, to the forma-tion and development of some of the most important of the modern schools of ethics.
The original editions of Hutcheson's various works have been already men-
tioned. Several additions and alterations were made in the second edition.(1726)
of the Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. This, as well
as most of his other works, passed through various editions. Of the System of
Moral Philosophy, however, published after Hutcheson's death, there is, we
believe, one edition only. Notices of Hutcheson occur in most histories, both of
general philosophy and of moral philosophy, as, for instance, in part. vii. of Adam
Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments; Mackintosh's Progress of Ethical Philo-
sophy; Cousin, Cours d' Histoire de la Philosophic Morale du XVIlIieme Siecle;
Whewell's Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England; Bain's Mental
and Moral Science; Dr Noah Porter's Appendix to the English translation of
Ueberweg's History of Philosophy; Mr Leslie Stephen's History of English
Thought in the Eighteenth Century, &c. Of Dr Leechman's Biography of Hutche-
son we have already spoken. Professor Veitch gives an interesting account of
his professorial work in Glasgow, Mind, vol. ii. pp. 209-211. (T. F.)



Footnote

See Belfast Magazine for August 1813.







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