1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caird, John

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CAIRD, JOHN (1820-1898), Scottish divine and philosopher, was born at Greenock on the 15th of December 1820. In his sixteenth year he entered the office of his father, who was partner and manager of a firm of engineers. Two years later, however, he obtained leave to continue his studies at Glasgow University. After a year of academic life he tried business again, but in 1840 he gave it up finally and returned to college. In 1845 he entered the ministry of the Church of Scotland, and after holding several livings accepted the chair of divinity at Glasgow in 1862. During these years he won a foremost place among the preachers of Scotland. In theology he was a Broad Churchman, seeking always to emphasize the permanent elements in religion, and ignoring technicalities. In 1873 he was appointed vice-chancellor and principal of Glasgow University. He delivered the Gifford Lectures in 1892-1893 and in 1895-1896. His Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (1880) is an attempt to show the essential rationality of religion. It is idealistic in character, being in fact a reproduction of Hegelian teaching in clear and melodious language. His argument for the Being of God is based on the hypothesis that thought—not individual but universal—is the reality of all things, the existence of this Infinite Thought being demonstrated by the limitations of finite thought. Again his Gifford Lectures are devoted to the proof of the truth of Christianity on grounds of right reason alone. Caird wrote also an excellent study of Spinoza, in which he showed the latent Hegelianism of the great Jewish philosopher. He died on the 30th of July 1898.