Dugald Stewart's Original Letter on James Beattie's Essay on Truth, 1805–1806

History of European Ideas 38 (1):103-121 (2012)
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Abstract

Summary When Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo was preparing his An Account of the Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) for the press, he asked his friend Dugald Stewart to contribute a summary and assessment of the argument of Beattie's most famous philosophical work, the Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth (1770). After some delay, in late 1805 or early 1806 Stewart sent to Forbes a lengthy letter in which he criticised Beattie's appeal to the principles of common sense and contrasted Beattie's writings with those of Stewart's mentor, Thomas Reid. In the end, Forbes published only brief excerpts from Stewart's letter in the Life of Beattie. This article publishes for the first time a complete transcription of the extant manuscript of Stewart's letter to Forbes, which is on deposit in the Fettercairn Papers in the National Library of Scotland.

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