Walter Donaldson

(c. 1574—1626) philosopher

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Walter Donaldson was born in Aberdeen and died in La Rochelle. The son of Alexander Donaldson and Elizabeth Lamb, he studied at King's College, Aberdeen before proceeding on a mission to Denmark with David Cunningham and others to announce the birth of Prince Henry (1594). He returned to Scotland for a few years before enrolling at Heidelberg on 11 September 1599, presumably as a law student. Thereafter he was appointed to Sedan where he lectured on Greek and morals; his textbook on the latter subject, published in Frankfurt in 1604, was not authorized but published from the notes of a private pupil. An authorized edition, Synopseos philosophiae moralis libri tres, like the previous edition for the use of students at Sedan, is dedicated to the Duke of Bouillon, patron of the Protestant academy there. The three books have the merit of brevity and clarity. The first discusses various theories of the highest good, plumping for the pursuit of happiness. The second discusses virtue in general, moral virtue, moral behaviour, voluntary and involuntary actions, evil tendencies and friendship. Book 3 turns to particular virtues: fortitude, temperance, liberality, etc. The Aristotelian view of magnificence as a mean between the vicious extremes of luxury and ‘sordes’ (parsimony) is highlighted. The work ends with a discussion of the intellectual virtues such as prudence. Ample literary quotations from Cicero, Virgil, Ovid and others assure the continued attention of the rhetoricians and classicists.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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