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BOOK REVIEWS 113 Reid's publications," writes Ross, "is a philosophically more adroit version of the central tenets advanced by Home" (p. 99). While Kames was not an interesting philosopher or even at times a very competent one, his reaction to the ideas of the English thinkers (particularly Locke, Newton, Berkeley, Clarke, Butler and the English deists), and to those of his cousin David Hume are of interest, for they afford an insight into the intellectual life of the Edinburgh literati, showing both the boldness of their speculations and their determination to solve in new ways the problems posed by empiricism, skepticism, and the growing secularism of their own society. One of the virtues of Professor Ross's account of the philosophy of Kames is that it shows how wide a hearing it got and traces the lines of its influence well into the nineteenth century. Sometimes Ross's argument seems strained because it goes beyond the information contained in the sources he is using or because the interpretation of these sources is questionable . For example, the Select Society's efforts to teach the Scots standard English were not so ludicrous as they have often been depicted and surely caused less mirth in Edinburgh than Ross suggests (p. 179 f). Thomas Sheridan, who lectured at Edinburgh under the Society's auspices, did not lecture to empty halls but to the fashionable 61ite of the city who alone could afford the subscription costs. Among those who heard him were some of the men who helped to found the University's Chair of Rhetoric and Belies Lettres during this time. To censure the efforts of the enlightened Scots to teach and use English is to forget how much they felt disadvantaged by their inability to speak in a manner like that of the English, with whom many of them had to compete for jobs, or to write in the language in which they did not habitually speak. The book contains a number of petty errors of detail, e.g., the giving to Lord Provost George Drummond a title which he never had (p. 198), the mistake in Andrew Crosbie's name (p. 313), and the often repeated story that Adam Ferguson charged with his regiment at Fontenoy when in fact Ferguson had not yet taken his place in it as chaplain (p. 168). Ross tells us that Hugh Blair had "great talents as a speaker" (p. 168), but it is known that Blair was almost incapable of speaking extemporaneously and for this reason took little part in the public debates of the General Assembly and refused to become its moderator. These are venial errors which do not much effect the value of the book, and they are errors which to some extent are explicable in terms of the sources which Ross has used. There are other lapses which seem to me more significant because they affect the characterization given to Kames and to the time in which he lived. Ross tells us that Kames was an original member of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society (p. 71), but in the first published list of the members of the Society printed in 1737 or 1738 Kames' name does not appear. Kames is said to have been one of the original members of the Select Society (p. 177), but the minute books of the Society show that he was admitted to the group only after it had been expanded to include all of the really notable and able men in Edinburgh. Kames' absence from the list of the founders of these two bodies suggests that he was perhaps not as well-respected and liked as one might think. There can, however, be no doubt that once in he proved to be an active member and an able and stimulating leader who did much to give direction to the clubs' works, and to enhance their standing in a city where both were somewhat suspect. ROOER L. EMERSON University of Western Ontario The Development o/Kant's View of Ethics. By Keith Ward. (New York: Humanities Press, 1972. Pp. xii -I- 184) This is an interesting and, in some respects, an important book. Its most significant thesis is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 113-115
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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