The University of Edinburgh's rare and unique collections catalogue online.

Philosophy Archives

TitlePhilosophy Archives
DescriptionAs befits one of the great centres of the European Enlightenment, Edinburgh University has a rich collection of philosophical archives, ranging from the 18th century to the present day. The Enlightenment itself is represented by lectures and correspondence by one of its major protagonists, Adam Ferguson (Professor of Moral Philosophy, 1764-1785), who has been hailed as the father of modern sociology. Other 18th-century collections include notes of lectures by John Pringle (Professor of Moral Philosophy, 1734-1745), known not only as a philosopher but as the founder of modern military medicine, John Bruce (Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, 1774-1786), and James Finlayson (Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, 1786-1808). Our major 19th-century philosophical collection is the Papers of Robert Flint (Professor of Divinity, 1876-1903), a moral philosopher and theologian who argued that it remained reasonable to believe in God in the light of Victorian scientific advances. We have particularly strong holdings in 20th-century philosophy. Amongst our most important collections is the Papers of John Macmurray (Professor of Moral Philosophy, 1944-1958), one of Scotland’s foremost 20th-century thinkers. A critic of Cartesian thought, Macmurray’s works ranged broadly across religion, political science, and education. We also hold the Papers of Alfred Edward Taylor, Macmurray’s predecessor in the Chair of Moral Philosophy (1924-1941) and an internationally recognised expert on Plato. We hold the papers of three distinguished holders of the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics: Norman Kemp Smith (1919-1945), known for his translation of, and commentaries, on Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’; William Henry Walsh (1960-1979), author of a major work on the philosophy of history; and Timothy L. S. Sprigge (1979-1989), an idealist philosopher with a keen interest in the ethical treatment of animals. A major recent accession (partly catalogued) is the archive of George Elder Davie, Lecturer in Philosophy, 1960-1982, and author of ‘The Democratic Intellect’. In this study of university teaching in 19th-century Scotland, Davie influentially argued for a multi-disciplinary education with philosophy at its core. Peter Howard Jones (Professor of Philosophy, 1984-1998) was another keen student of Scottish philosophical history, particularly the Enlightenment. We have recently acquired an important collection of his lecture materials.
OriginEdinburgh; Scotland

Image: Edinburgh University Philosophy Department