Until the publication of this Liberty Fund edition, all but one of the works contained in Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind were available only in Latin. This milestone English translation will provide a general audience with insight into Hutcheson’s thought.
In the words of the editors: “Hutcheson’s Latin texts in logic (Logicae Compendium) and metaphysics (Synopsis Metaphysicae) form an important part of his collected works. Published respectively in 1756 and, in its second edition, 1744, these works represent Hutcheson’s only systematic treatments of logic, ontology, and pneumatology, or the science of the soul. They were considered indispensable texts for the instruction of students in the eighteenth century. Any serious study of Hutcheson’s moral and political philosophy must take into account his understanding of logic (of ideas, judgments, propositions, and reasoning) and metaphysics (of existence, individuation, causation, substance, the soul, and the attributes of God).”
The introduction and notes to this translation situate the texts in the context of Hutcheson’s mature philosophy and relate it to his teaching at Glasgow from 1730 until his death in 1746. At the same time, the editors show the links to his early teaching in Dublin in the 1720s. The work on natural sociability was Hutcheson’s significant inaugural lecture at Glasgow.
"Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy and Its Principal Founders and Exponents
Philosophy is the knowledge of the true and the good which men build for themselves by the powers of their own reason. Therefore we are not concerned here with the knowledge of things which has been available to men from the earliest days and which was passed down through the generations from divine revelation.
Philosophy was either barbarian or Greek. There seems to have been a considerable amount of barbarian philosophy among the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, and the Indians, but little evidence remains. The study of geometry, astronomy, theology, ethics, and politics flourished among them.
The earliest authors of Greek philosophy after the poets, whose philosophy is not at all certain, were Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras, unless both of them perhaps were pupils of Pherecydes of Syros. They lived at least 550 years before the birth of Christ. Pythagoras founded the Sicilian sect, and Thales founded the Ionian sect about the beginning of Cyrus’s reign, before the return of the Jews from Babylon to their homeland.
I. The Italian Sect. Pythagoras developed geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, ethics, and theology. He wished to be called not wise (sophos) but a lover of wisdom (philosophos). His modesty in this has been imitated by all subsequent students of wisdom. At Croton in Italy he started a school or community. He taught that there is one supreme God, who is of a nature or substance different from matter, and he believed that men’s minds are also of this nature. By his teaching and example he commended the highest piety toward God and goodness toward men, as well as a temperance which would liberate men’s minds from the chains of the body. This school flourished for a long time among the Italians and the Greeks. Pythagoras’s successor was his son, Telauges; then Empedocles, the inventor of rhetoric; and Xenophanes; and after these, Parmenides and Leucippus. Following them came Zeno of Elea in Italy, the inventor of dialectic; Socrates was his pupil who approved the practice of arguing by questions after his example. From this school came also Democritus and Heraclitus.
II. The Ionian Sect. Thales opened a school at Miletus. Little evidence remains of him, but his successors were Anaximander, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus, the last of whom is famous for his disciple Socrates. They particularly cultivated geometry, astronomy and the whole of physics. The rest are more unsympathetic to religion, but the excellent Anaxagoras, who was called “the Mind,” held that the whole frame and structure of the world was made by the divine mind and reason.
III. The restorer or founder of true philosophy was Socrates, born at Athens to his father Sophroniscus in the time of Darius Nothus, in the period before Philip of Macedon in human reckoning, and four centuries before the birth of Christ. This truly divine man turned his penetrating mind away from corporeal and hidden things, which contribute little to a happy life, and gave himself completely to the cultivation of true piety and the knowledge of God, and to every virtue. Particularly conversant with ethics, politics, and economics, he taught that the minds of men are immortal and that their excellence consists in being as like to God as possible, and that after death men will be happy or miserable according as they have given themselves in this life to virtue or to vice."
Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) was an Irish philosopher, a crucial link between the continental European natural law tradition and the emerging Scottish Enlightenment.
Hence, he is a pivotal figure in the Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics series. A contemporary of Lord Kames and George Turnbull, an acquaintance of David Hume, and the teacher of Adam Smith, Hutcheson was arguably the leading figure in making Scotland distinctive within the general European Enlightenment.