A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists/Adamson, Professor Robert


Adamson, Professor Robert, Ph.D., philosopher. B. Jan. 19, 1852. Ed. Edinburgh University, where he took first-class honours in philosophy. After serving for some years as assistant to Professor Calderwood, then to A. C. Fraser, Adamson was in 1876 appointed professor of philosophy and political economy at Owen's College, Manchester. In 1893 he passed from there to the chair of logic at Aberdeen University, and from 1895 until he died he was professor of logic at Glasgow University. He is rightly described in the Cambridge History of Modern Literature as "the most learned of contemporary philosophers " (vol. xiv, p. 48), and his character was as impressive as his culture. He worked devotedly for educational and social reform. Professor Adamson was an outspoken Agnostic, and was a pure empiricist in regard to morals. In his numerous works he holds that mind and matter are merely two aspects of a Monistic reality. In an essay on "Moral! Theory and Practice" in Ethical Democracy (1900) he rules out even the most liberal notions of Deity as "intellectually unrepresentable" (p. 224), and he thinks: that "the world conquered Christianity" instead of Christianity conquering the world. There is an annual "Adamson Lecture" in his honour at Manchester University. D. Feb. 5, 1902.