"STEWART ADVOCATED A 'COMMON-SENSE' PHILOSOPHY": DUGALD STEWART'S PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS, 1810 FIRST EDITION
STEWART, Dugald. Philosophical Essays. Edinburgh: William Creech, and Archibald Constable, et al., 1810. Quarto, contemporary full dark brown calf expertly rebacked with original gilt-decorated spine and spine label neatly laid down, raised bands. $2750.
First edition of this collection of the Scottish philosopher's essays—on the works of Locke, Berkeley, Hartley, Priestly, and Darwin, and also on Beauty, the Sublime, and Taste—in nicely restored contemporary calf-gilt.
Stewart (1753-1828) wrote and lectured extensively on philosophy and political economy. "It was the practice of the Scottish professors of moral philosophy to include in their courses lectures on political economy. Stewart did so, and with great effect, exerted by his teaching of this, as of the other subjects he dealt with, a powerful influence on many hearers who afterwards became distinguished, as for example Lords Lauderdale, Palmerston, Lansdowne, Brougham, and Jeffrey, Francis Horner and Sydney Smith" (Palgrave III: 476). This collection is divided into two parts: the first deals with Locke, Berkeley, Hartley, Priestly and Darwin; the second discusses the concepts of beauty, the sublime, and taste.
"In addition to being a lecturer of European reputation, Stewart was an active writer during and after his formal university career. His principal work, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, appeared in three parts (1792, 1814, and 1827), and was supplemented by [the present work] Philosophical Essays (1810) and the Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers of Man (1828)… For Stewart the role of the philosopher was to elucidate the laws by which human understanding occurred. He gave as examples of such laws the belief in personal existence, the continuation of the personality, and the independent existence of the material world… Stewart advocated a 'common-sense' philosophy; he noted that this term 'seems nearly equivalent to what we in Scotland call motherwit, that degree of sagacity derived partly from natural constitution, but chiefly from personal experience, by which one is able to conduct one's self with propriety in the affairs of common life.' Stewart saw his thought as an antidote to the mitigated skepticism of David Hume" (ODNB). The two Mills attacked the 'common-sense' doctrine, but part of Stewart's originality lay in his readiness to depart from the pure Scottish tradition and incorporate elements of moderate empiricism and other elements from French philosophy into his works. (Kant, he confessed, he could not understand at all.).
Interior clean and fine. An excellent copy in nicely restored contemporary calf-gilt.