1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stirling, James Hutchison

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6215171911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25 — Stirling, James Hutchison

STIRLING, JAMES HUTCHISON (1820-1909), Scottish philosopher, was born at Glasgow on the 22nd of June 1820. He was educated at Glasgow University, where he studied medicine and philosophy. For a short time he practised as a doctor in Wales, but gave up his profession in order to continue his philosophical studies in Germany and France. From 1888 to 1890 he was Gifford lecturer at the university of Edinburgh and published his lectures in 1890 (Philosophy and Theology). He was an LL.D. of Edinburgh University, and foreign member of the Philosophical Society of Berlin. He died in March 1909. His principal works are: The Secret of Hegel (1865; new ed. 1893); Sir William Hamilton: The Philosophy of Perception; a translation of Schwegler's Geschichte der Philosophie (1867; 12th ed., 1893); Jerrold, Tennyson and Macaulay, &c. (1868); On Materialism (1868); As Regards Protoplasm (1869; 2nd ed., 1872); Lectures on the Philosophy of Law (1873); Burns in Drama (1878); Text-Book to Kant (1881); Philosophy in the Poets; Darwinianism; Workmen and Work (1894); What IS Thought? Or the Problem of Philosophy; By Way of a Conclusion So Far (1900); The Categories (1903). Of these the most important is The Secret of Hegel, which is admitted, both in England and in Germany, to be among the most scholarly and valuable contributions to Hegelian doctrine and to modern philosophy in general. In the preface to the new edition he explains that he was first drawn to the study of Hegel by seeing the name in a review, and subsequently heard it mentioned with awe and reverence by two German students. He set himself at once to grapple with the difficulties and to unfold the principles of the Hegelian dialectic, and by his efforts he introduced an entirely new spirit into English philosophy. Closely connected with the Secret is the Text-Book to Kant, which comprises a translation of the Critique with notes and a biography. In these two works Dr Stirling endeavoured to establish an intimate connexion between Kant and Hegel, and even went so far as to maintain that Hegel's doctrine is merely the elucidation and crystallization of the Kantian system. “The secret of Hegel,” he says in the preliminary notice to his great work, “may be indicated at shortest thus: Hegel made explicit the concrete universal that was implicit in Kant.”

The sixth part of the Secret contains valuable criticisms on the Hegelian writings of Schwegler, Rosenkranz and Haym, and explains by contrast much that has been definitely stated in the preceding pages. Of Dr Stirling's other works the most important is the volume of Gifford Lectures, in which he developed a theory of natural theology in relation to philosophy as a whole. As Regards Protoplasm contains an attempted refutation of the Essay on the Physical Basis of Life by Huxley.