John Anderson was born at Roseneath in Dunbartonshire (Scotland) and died on 13 January 1796. He was educated in Stirling and at Glasgow University (MA, 1745). He held professorships at Glasgow in oriental languages (1755–7) and natural philosophy (1757–96). He led an unusually eventful life, participating in military and political activities both in Scotland and in France. His political sympathies were distinctly republican, and while in France in the 1790s he wrote two essays on military affairs. His best-known work was his Institutes of Physics (1786), which though thoroughly and respectably Newtonian sought to give an almost legal status to the laws of nature. This work found immediate acceptance with a literate and inquiring public, and several further editions were published before the end of the century. The chief virtue of the work lies in its accessibility and in the sense of enthusiasm Anderson engenders for his subject. Anderson also displayed a scholarly interest in the Roman antiquities of Britain.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.