Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography/Volume 2/Ferrier, James F.
FERRIER, James F., LL.D., professor of moral philosophy in the university of St. Andrews, nephew and son-in-law of the late Professor John Wilson of Edinburgh university and of Blackwood's Magazine. Dr. Ferrier was educated (partly at Oxford, where he graduated B.A.) for the Scottish bar, but is known as a writer on philosophy. Some metaphysical essays from his pen, which were published in Blackwood, attracted attention to the writer; and the chair of moral philosophy in the university of St. Andrews becoming vacant, he was appointed to it in 1845. On the death of his distinguished relative in 1852, Professor Ferrier became a candidate for the chair of moral philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, but was unsuccessful. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the chair of logic and metaphysics in the same university, vacant by the death of Sir William Hamilton. The reputation of Ferrier as a philosopher rests chiefly on his "Institutes of Metaphysics, the theory of Knowing and Being," published in 1854—a work which is characterized by much acuteness of thought and no little learning. The avowed aim of the author was to shake to the foundation the distinctive principles of the Scottish philosophy, and to prove that the common dicta of consciousness are to be repudiated as false, instead of being accepted as the source and groundwork of all true mental science. How far this object has been gained, readers will judge differently; but there can be no doubt in regard to the vigour and elegance of the work. Dr. Ferrier died 11th June, 1864.—J. B. J.