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Robert Eden Scott

(c. 1769—1811) philosopher


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causation

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Robert Eden Scott was born in Old Aberdeen in April 1769 and died there on 14 January 1811. He entered King's College, Aberdeen in October 1781 and graduated with his MA in March 1785. The following autumn he went to Edinburgh, where he continued his studies until 1788. The Edinburgh University matriculation roll shows that during this period he took the classes of Andrew Dalzel (Greek), William Greenfield (rhetoric and belles lettres), John Playfair (mathematics), John Robinson (natural philosophy), Dugald Stewart (moral philosophy) and Alexander Fraser Tytler (civil history). In May 1788 he was appointed as the assistant to his maternal grandfather, the regent Thomas Gordon, at King's College. As Gordon's assistant, he taught the whole of the cursus philosophicus, which included natural history, natural philosophy and moral philosophy, along with the various branches of mathematics at both the elementary and relatively advanced levels. For the sessions 1789–90 and 1790–91 he also substituted for the Greek professors John Leslie and Gilbert Gerard, lecturing on Greek and Latin grammar and literature and modern belles lettres. After he formally succeeded Gordon as regent in 1796 his teaching remained much the same until 1798, when King's College moved to adopt the professorial system. Scott was now assigned the tertian or third-year students, which meant that he lectured primarily on natural philosophy and, in addition, he gave the mathematics classes on dialling, conic sections and fluxions. But when King's finally came to appoint specialist professors in June 1800, he was named as the first Professor of Moral Philosophy, and he continued in this position until his death in 1811. Two of his major published works, Elements of Rhetoric (1802) and Elements of Intellectual Philosophy (1805), grew out of his teaching duties, while his third book, the Inquiry into the Limits and Peculiar Objects of Physical and Metaphysical Science (1810), addressed the long-standing Scottish debate over causation which had again flared up in the context of the contested election of the natural philosopher John Leslie to the Edinburgh Chair of Mathematics in 1805. As well as being a prominent figure at King's College, Scott played a leading role in the affairs of Old Aberdeen. He was made a burgess in 1789 and served as Provost from 1801 to 1808, and he was a founder and major benefactor of the Fund for the Relief of Sick Labourers in Old Aberdeen. He was survived by his wife Rachel Forbes, whom he married on 19 February 1797.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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