The Form of the Personal

  • John Macmurray
1953 to 1954
University of Edinburgh

John Macmurray asserts the primacy of the practical over the theoretical in The Self as Agent, demonstrating that philosophical analysis should begin with the Self as an agent of action in the world. In Persons in Relation, John Macmurray extends his work in The Self as Agent, showing the Self in proper existence within a community of relational beings and asserting that ‘there can be no man until there are at least two men in communication.’

Philosophy and Theology

  • James Hutchison Stirling
University of Edinburgh

James Hutchison Stirling published Philosophy and Theology in 1890. It is a compilation of the 20 Gifford lectures he delivered as the first Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. These lectures discuss the questions: What is Natural Theology?

Naturalism and Agnosticism

  • James Ward
University of Aberdeen

Ward's lecture series (Naturalism and Agnosticism) seeks to defend an adequate basis for theistic inquiry in light of certain assumptions made by science that would preclude such an inquiry's possibility. Naturalism has a tendency to favour materialism. Where naturalism takes agnosticism for its ally (something it must do if its doctrines are not to remain dogma) and is, thereby, forced to choose between spiritualism and materialism, it opts for the materialist terminology (albeit for practical purposes in the progression of scientific enquiry).

The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers

  • Edward Caird
1900 to 1902
University of Glasgow

The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers gives an account of those ideas of Greek Philosophers which have decisively affected the subsequent development of theological thought. The selection of topics is confined mainly to the writings of Plato and Aristotle, to the main representatives of the Stoic philosophy, and to Philo and Plotinus among the Neo-Platonists.

The Interpretation of Religious Experience, vol. 2

  • John Watson
1910 to 1912
University of Glasgow

In the second part entitled Constructive Watson gives such an interpretation of religious ideas as may seem to be required by the greater complexity and comprehensiveness of modern thought. Watson attends to the evolution of ideas, concentrating on suggestive ideas in Hegel and his English exponents, though refusing to accept some of the doctrines presented as Hegelian in the works of certain exponents and critics in England and Germany.

The Interpretation of Religious Experience, vol. 1

  • John Watson
1910 to 1912
University of Glasgow

The Interpretation of Religious Experience is divided into two parts, published in separate volumes. In the first part entitled Historical Watson reflects critically upon religion and especially upon Christianity, discussing theological and philosophical writers. An enquiry into the origin and development of Christianity is conducted, devoting particular attention both to the systematic formulation of religious experience in theology and also to the influence of philosophy on theology.

The Idea of God in the Light of Recent Philosophy

  • Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison
1911 to 1913
University of Aberdeen

The principal purpose of these lectures is to examine critically the true significance of Enlightenment philosophy and 19th century biology for Christian theism. A discussion of Kant's attempt to found religious belief on moral experience leads to an exploration of the foundations of the Idealist philosophy of Hegel and his successors, and to its rival — positivistic naturalism.

Evolutionary biology has liberating insights for both theology and philosophy, provided the theory of evolution is understood correctly. Ironically, this proper understanding shows Christianity's moral rival — ethical humanism — to be anti-scientific.

Further reflection on the deficiencies of positivism confirms the cogency of Absolute Idealism, which is not to be confused with pan-psychism, mentalism or “subjective” idealism. The mistakes of some Idealist philosophers have to be corrected, however, chief among them the tendency of Idealist philosophy to deny reality to “finite selves.” Once amended, Idealism gives us reason to abandon the conception of God as a superhuman Creator in favour of creation conceived as an evolutionary “process,” and also provides a more satisfactory answer to the traditional problem of evil.

The Idea of Immortality

  • Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison
1921 to 1923
University of Edinburgh

In this volume, Pringle-Pattison gives a historical review of how the idea of immortality is expressed in different ages, and examines the corresponding foundation for the hope of immortality for each period. He defines ‘eternal life’ as experienced through the participation in the being of Christ; it is a spiritual attitude intended for the here and now.

Foundations of Ethics

  • William David Ross
1935 to 1936
University of Aberdeen

In his twelve-lecture series, Ross explores several debates regarding the core issues in moral theory. Moral life, he observes, has been regarded as either obedience to laws or as a striving after goods. Moral theories have been further subdivided into reaction and causal theories regarding the meaning of ethical terms. The third distinction he examines separates moral theories into the naturalistic and non-naturalistic. The notion of right is given primacy over the good in the order of discussion, and examined in light of various accounts of it. The nature of obligation is examined in relation to the concept of right, and the accounts of the rightness of an action are raised following from this. Questions of knowledge and motive arise in relation to what the concept of right is. Indeterminacy and determinism are assessed as to their bearing on moral philosophy, forming an interlude before the nature of goodness is examined. A notion of ‘goodness’ is essential in the study of ethics, and Ross explores its nature as a predicate, its meaning and the sort of property it is. The final lecture builds upon this to present an account of moral goodness: the types of things that constitute the class of the morally good. Though goodness and rightness are independent, a completely good act must be a right act.

The Relevance of Science

  • Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
1959 to 1961
University of Glasgow

In The Relevance of Science, Weizsäcker engaged in a dialogue with intellectuals more than with the specialists in the fields he discusses. He diagnoses the ambivalence of the scientific civilization in place at the time the lectures were given.

He also aims to present practical solutions to problems raised in his theoretical work.

First, he presents an account of history from a philosophical standpoint. Then he outlines his own philosophical ideas as a basis for further discussion. He discusses the history of Western thought by examining the history of nature, seeing his lectures not primarily as giving rise to practical advice but as helping to develop our consciousness.

Benedikt Bock
University of Glasgow


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