The Active Powers of the Human Mind

In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume II: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 255–292 (2023)
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Abstract

This essay traces the development of the philosophical debates concerning active powers and human agency in eighteenth-century Scotland. I examine how and why Scottish philosophers such as Francis Hutcheson, George Turnbull, David Hume, and Henry Home, Lord Kames, depart from John Locke’s and other traditional conceptions of the will and how Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart reinstate Locke’s distinction between volition and desire. Moreover, I examine what role desires, passions, and motives play in the writings of these and other Scottish Enlightenment philosophers on human agency and draw attention to their underlying disputes concerning liberty and necessity. I end by reflecting on how classifications of principles of actions changed in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Scottish philosophy.

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Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin

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