Frank Sayers

(1763—1817) poet and scholar

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Joseph Priestley (1733—1804) theologian and natural philosopher

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Frank Sayers was born in London and died in Norwich. He studied medicine at Edinburgh and in Holland, receiving his MD in 1789, but then abandoned medicine for literature. He became known as a poet and dramatist, his work strongly influenced by Norse mythology. His only overtly philosophical work, Disquisitions metaphysical and literary (1793), is a series of nine essays on subjects ranging from poetry to Christianity. In an essay on beauty, Sayers tries to establish a classification of the features of things which lead us to describe them as beautiful. An essay on perception is also of interest, showing the influence of Priestley and David Hartley. Using deductive reasoning rather than experiment or observation, Sayers argues against the principle of synchronous perception (that is, that the mind can perceive several things at once). He points out that the whole of a complex idea is never in the mind at once; instead, we perceive different parts of a problem at different times. The mind must be directed at something in order to perceive it, and must transfer its attention, however rapidly, in order to perceive another thing. This work was also translated into German, and enjoyed some success on the Continent. Articles by Sayers also appeared in the Quarterly Review.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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