Alexander Campbell Fraser

Alexander Campbell Fraser

Alexander Campbell Fraser (3 September 1819 - 2 December 1914) was a Scottish philosopher.

Born at Ardchattan, Argyll, he was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, where, from 1846 to 1856, he was professor of Logic at New College. He edited the "North British Review" from 1850 to 1857, and in 1856, having previously been a Free Church minister, he succeeded Sir William Hamilton as professor of Logic and Metaphysics at Edinburgh University. In 1859 he became dean of the faculty of arts.

He devoted himself to the study of English philosophers, especially George Berkeley, and published a "Collected Edition of the Works of Bishop Berkeley with Annotations, etc." (1871; enlarged 1901), a "Biography of Berkeley" (1881), an "Annotated Edition of Locke's Essay" (1894), the "Philosophy of Theism" (1896) and the "Biography of Thomas Reid" (1898). He contributed the article on John Locke to the Encyclopædia Britannica.

In 1904 he published an autobiography entitled "Biographia philosophica", in which he sketched the progress of his intellectual development. From this work and from his Gifford Lectures (1894-6) we learn objectively what had previously been inferred from his critical work. After a childhood spent in an austerity which stigmatized as unholy even the novels of Sir Walter Scott, he began his college career at the age of fourteen at a time when Christopher North and Dr Ritchie were lecturing on Moral Philosophy and Logic. His first philosophical advance was stimulated by Thomas Brown's "Cause and Effect", which introduced him to the problems which were to occupy his thought. From this point he fell into the scepticism of David Hume.

In 1831 Sir William Hamilton was appointed to the chair of Logic and Metaphysics, and Fraser became his pupil. He himself said "I owe more to Hamilton than to any other influence." It was about this time also that he began his study of Berkeley and Coleridge, and deserted his early phenomenalism for the conception of a spiritual will as the universal cause. In the "Biographia" this "Theistic faith" appears in its full developmeni (see the concluding chapter), and is especially important as perhaps the nearest approach to Kantian ethics made by original English philosophy. Apart from the philosophical interest of the "Biographia", the work contains valuable pictures of the Lam of Lorne and Argyllshire society in the early 19th century, of university life in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and a history of the "North British Review".

External links

* [ Fraser's Gifford Lectures on "Philosophy of Theism"]


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