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n
HUTCHESON


“the ordinary scholastic philosophy which was in vogue in those days.” In 1710 he entered the university of Glasgow, where he spent six years, 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, and received a licence to preach. When, however, he was about to enter upon the pastorate of a small dissenting congregation he changed his plans on the advice of a friend and opened a private academy in Dublin. In Dublin his literary attainments gained hfm the friendship of many prominent inhabitants. Among these was Archbishop King (author of the De origine mali), who resisted all attempts to prosecute Hutcheson in the archbishop's court for keeping a school without the episcopal licence. Hutcheson's relations with the clergy of the Established Church, especially with the archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, Hugh Boulter (1672-1742) and William King (16 5o~1729), seem to have been most cordial, and his biographer, in speaking of “ the inclination of his friends to serve him, the schemes proposed to him for obtaining promotion, ” &c., probably refers to some offers of preferment, on condition of his accepting episcopal ordination. These offers, however, were unavailing.

While residing in Dublin, Hutcheson published anonymously the four essays by which he is best known, namely, the Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony and Design, the Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, in 1725, the Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and A jections and Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, in 1728. 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 H ibernicus' Letters, a periodical which appeared in Dublin (1725-1727, 2nd ed. 1734). At the end of the same period occurred the controversy in the London Journal with 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 (Glasgow, 1772).

In 1729 Hutcheson succeeded his old master, Gershom Carmichael, in the chair of moral philosophy in the university of Glasgow. It is curious that up to this time all his essays and letters had been published anonymously, though their authorship appears to have been well known. In 1730 he entered on the duties of his office, delivering an inaugural lecture (afterwards published), De naturali hominum socialitate. It was a great relief to him after the drudgery of school work to secure leisure for his favourite studies; “non levi igitur laetitia commovebar cum almam matrem Academiam me, suum olim alumnum, in libertatem asseruisse audiveram.” Yet the works on which Hutcheson's reputation rests had already been published.

The remainder of his life he devoted to his professorial duties. His reputation as a teacher attracted many young men, belonging to dissenting families, from England and Ireland, and he 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 accused in 1738 before the Glasgow presbytery for “following two false and dangerous doctrines: first, that the standard of moral goodness was the promotion of the happiness of others; and second, that we could have a knowledge of good and evil without and prior to a knowledge of God” (Rae, Life of Adam Smith, 1895). The accusation seems to have had no result.

In addition to the works named, the following were published during Hutcheson's lifetime: a pamphlet entitled Considerations on Patronage (173 5); Philosophiae moralis institution compendioria, ethices et jurisprudential natural is elementa eontinens, lib. iii. (Glasgow, 1742); Metaphysicae synopsis ontologiam el pneumotologiam complectens (Glasgow, 1742). The last work was published anonymously. After his death, his son, Francis Hutcheson (c. 1722-1773), author of a number of popular songs (e.g. “ As Colin one evening, ” “ Tolly Bacchus, ” “ Where Weeping Yews ”), published much the longest, though by no means the most interesting, of his works, A System of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books (2 vols., London, 17 5 5). To this is prefixed a life of the author, by Dr William Leechman (1706-178 5), professor of divinity in the university of Glasgow. The only remaining work assigned to Hutcheson is a small treatise on Logic (Glasgow, 1 764). This compendium, together with the C ompeudium of M etaphysies, was republished at Strassburg in 1722. Thus Hutcheson dealt with metaphysics, logic and ethics. His importance is, however, due almost entirely to his ethical writings, and among these primarily to the four essays and the letters published during his residence in Dublin. His standpoint has a negative and a positive aspect; he is in strong opposition to Thomas Hobbes and Bernard de Mandeville, and in fundamental agreement with Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd earl of Shaftesbury), whose name he very properly coupled with his own on the title-page of the first two essays. There are no two names, perhaps, in the histpry 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 adoption of the principle that the test of virtuous action is its tendency to promote the general welfare are obvious and fundamental points of agreement between the two authors.

I. Ethics.-According to Hutcheson, man has a variety of senses, internal as well as external, refiex as well as direct, the general definition of a sense being “ any determination of our minds to receive ideas independently 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), -~(I) consciousness, by which each man has a perception of himself and of all that is going on in his own mind (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 Hutcheson's ethical system is the “ moral sense.” It is this which pronounces immediately on the character of actions and affections, approving those which are virtuous, and disapproving those which are vicious. “ His principal design, ” he says in the preface 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 reasons which show some actions tc be in the whole advantageous to the agent, and their contraries 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 preservation 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 assumption 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 this use of the term “ sense ” has a tendency to obscure the real nature of the process which goes on in an act of moral judgment. 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 ap reflex feeling, probably instantaneous, of satisfaction at actions which we denominate ood, of dissatisfaction at those which we denominate bad. By the integectual part of this process we refer the action or habit to a certain class; but no sooner is the intellectual process completed