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James Frederick Ferrier


1808 - 1864

Philosopher and academic. Born in Edinburgh, the son of a lawyer, Ferrier was educated by the Dr. Henry Duncan (1774 - 1846) at Ruthwell (Dumfries and Galloway) and thereafter at the High School in Edinburgh. He continued his education at the University of Edinburgh (1825-7) and Magdalen College (Oxford), graduating in 1831. Ferrier became a close friend of Sir William Hamilton (1788 - 1856) and took the Chair of Civil History at the University of Edinburgh, which Hamilton had occupied until 1836. He became Professor of Moral Philosophy and Political Economy at St. Andrews University in 1845, a post he held until his death. He took his duties in St. Andrews very seriously and was rarely persuaded to leave the town.

He was a regular contributor to Blackwood's Magazine while in Edinburgh. His most notable book was the Institutes of Metaphysic (1854), which ran to two editions. This was regarded as laying the foundations of the British Idealist movement, which developed the work of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831). Ferrier was critical of the work of his friend Hamilton and in turn Hamilton's enthusiasm for the work of Thomas Reid (1710-96).

Ferrier suffered a weakness of the heart in 1861 and died in St. Andrews three years later.


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