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Edward Caird


1835 - 1908

Philosopher. Caird was born in Greenock, the son of an engineer and younger brother of clergyman John Caird (1820-98). He attended Greenock Academy and read arts and divinity at the Universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews, together with Balliol College (Oxford), although his studies were interrupted by bouts of ill-health. He eventually graduated from Oxford in 1863. He held a Fellowship at Oxford (1864-6), and was appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow in 1866. Caird gave a series of Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews (1890-92), which were well received and brought about his election as Master of Balliol College the following year.

He was a supporter of the German philosophers Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831) and Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) and did much to popularise their work in Britain. Caird was a key figure in the idealist movement, which dominated British philosophy well into the 20th C. and exerted a far-reaching influence on British philosophy and theology. Caird had a liberal outlook, supporting the education of women and encouraging university graduates to work with the poor.

Caird returned to Scotland to give another series of Gifford Lectures in Glasgow (1900-2). Owing to failing health he ceased lecturing in 1904 and resigned from Balliol in 1906.

His publications included The Roman Element in Civilisation (1866), A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Kant (1877), the Religion and Social Philosophy of Comte (1885), Essays on Literature and Philosophy (1892) and The Evolution of Religion (1893), regarded as a masterpiece, and The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers (1904).

He died in Oxford and is buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery in that city.


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