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George Elder Davie


1912 - 2007

Philosopher. Born in Dundee, the son of a pharmacist, Davie was educated at the High School there and at the University of Edinburgh. In Edinburgh, Davie developed friendships with poets Hugh MacDiarmid (1892 - 1978) and Sorley MacLean (1911-96). He was appointed to a lectureship there but left to join the Royal Corp of Signals in 1941. After the war he taught at Queen's University Belfast (1946-59), before returning to Edinburgh.

Davie was best known for his book The Democratic Intellect (1961), which promoted liberal education through an historical examination of philosophy in the Scottish education system and influenced the debates on the place of universities in the latter part of the 20th century. This book had begun as an introduction to The Scotch Metaphysics, eventually published in 2001, which explored the philosophical movement in Scotland during the Enlightenment by focusing on the works of Thomas Reid (1710-96), Dugald Stewart (1753 - 1828), Sir William Hamilton (1788 - 1856), Thomas Brown (1778 - 1820) and James Frederick Ferrier (1808-64).

Davie was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee. He was awarded the Fletcher of Saltoun Award for services to Scotland in 1999.

He died in Wiltshire (England).


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