William Spalding

(1809—1859) author

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William Spalding was born in Aberdeen on 22 May 1809, where his father, James, was Procurator Fiscal, and died in St Andrews on 16 November 1859. After graduating from Marischal College (MA 1827), where his philosophy teacher was George Glennie, Spalding returned for two sessions to teach the advanced Greek class. He then paid a long visit to Italy for the sake of his health, and described his travels in Italy and the Italian Islands (1830). In 1830 he matriculated in law at Edinburgh University with the intention of reading for the Bar. In Italy he had developed a taste for art, and this new enthusiasm conspired with a long-standing love of literature to undermine his commitment to a legal career. Although he practised as an advocate for five years, he turned his back on the profession in 1838 and accepted the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at Edinburgh, after having previously lost the contest for the Logic Chair in 1836 to William Hamilton. In 1845 he left the capital to become Professor of Logic, Rhetoric and Metaphysics at St Andrews, and in due course also developed an independent course there in English literature. Although Spalding's published philosophy makes dense reading, he appears to have had a good reputation as a teacher: ‘After the first week Spalding seemed to know what each student was capable of, and was able to adapt his teaching so as to make the most of it’ (Knight, 1903, p. 82). Never robust in health, he eschewed the golf links at St Andrews in favour of his noted flower garden. He died at the age of fifty.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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