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Source: Francis Hutcheson's Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
Francis Hutcheson’s A Compend of Logic and A Synopsis of Metaphysics represent his only systematic treatments of logic, ontology, and pneumatology, or the science of the soul. They were considered indispensable texts for the instruction of students in the eighteenth century. There were six (posthumous) editions of his Logic; and seven editions of his Metaphysics (five of them posthumous). Any serious study of Hutcheson’s philosophy must take into account his understanding of logic: of ideas and terms, judgments and propositions, reasoning and discourse, topics, fallacies, and method; and metaphysics: of being, substance, cause and effect, the intellect, the will, the soul, the attributes of God.
Notwithstanding the importance of the subject matter, Hutcheson’s texts on logic and metaphysics have not figured prominently in studies of his philosophy. This may be explained in part by the circumstance that they were written in Latin; the present volume provides the first complete translation of these writings into English. The relative neglect of Hutcheson’s Logic and Metaphysics may also be linked to the fact that they were composed for the use of students. Unlike his English-language works, published in the 1720s and written for adult readers, but like A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy (1747; originally composed in Latin as Philosophiae Moralis Institutio Compendiaria, 1742, 1745), his logic and metaphysics were intended for classroom use. Thus, the significance of his academic or Latin writings can be best appreciated by recognizing their derivative character: they belong to a textbook tradition of commentary on the writings of others. Some of the most distinctive and central arguments of Hutcheson’s philosophy—the importance of ideas brought to mind by the internal senses, the presence in human nature of calm desires, of generous and benevolent instincts—will be found to emerge in the course of these writings. But the direction of the arguments, the structure of the books, the questions he found it necessary to address can be best understood and appreciated by recognizing that they derive from texts assigned to students by his predecessors and his contemporaries at the University of Glasgow in the first half of the eighteenth century.
A Compend of Logic
Two approaches to the study of logic were combined in the teaching of Hutcheson and his colleagues. One was the logic of ideas: the logic of Port Royal as in The Art of Thinking by Arnauld and Nicole (1662), Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), and Jean Le Clerc’s Logica; sive Ars Ratiocinandi (1692). The second approach was the logic of Aristotelian scholasticism: the texts that appear to have been most often consulted were those of Franco Burgersdijk, Institutiones Logicae (1632), Robert Sanderson, Logicae Artis Compendium (1672), and Henry Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium (1692).
In Hutcheson’s A Compend of Logic (Logicae Compendium, 1756), the logic of ideas provided the structure and point of departure for his exposition. His first concern, which he shared with the logicians of Port Royal, Locke and Le Clerc, was to account for the formation of ideas: how ideas are conceived or apprehended (Part I); how judgments are formed by comparisons of ideas (Part II); how inferences are made by reasoning or by judgments which depend upon a third idea or discourse (Part III); how ideas should be ordered to avoid fallacious reasoning, or method (appendix). It will also be evident, however, that while the logic of ideas provided the form or framework of the presentation, the substance of Hutcheson’s Logic was drawn very largely from scholastic discussions of terms (Part I); of propositions (Part II); of the rules of syllogism (Part III); and topics (appendix).
This combination of the way of ideas and of scholastic or Aristotelian logic was a characteristic of the teaching of Hutcheson’s former professor and senior colleague at the University of Glasgow, John Loudon. Loudon taught philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1699 until his death in 1750; from 1727 to 1750 he was Professor of Logic (and metaphysics). In his elementary course, Compendium Logicae, he lectured on scholastic or Aristotelian logic. In his more advanced course, or Logica, he expanded on the logic of ideas. In his advanced treatment of logic, Loudon introduced a class of ideas that would have particular significance for Hutcheson. Following Antoine Arnauld and Nicholas Malebranche, Loudon maintained that our ideas of spiritual things do not originate in sensation or imagination; such ideas are better understood as ideas of pure intellect, inspired in us directly by God. And Loudon went on to argue that spiritual ideas are not the only ideas conceived in this way. Ideas of pure intellect also include universal ideas, ideas of affirmation and negation, ideas of truth and virtue.
Hutcheson would employ ideas of pure intellect to comprehend and account for an even wider range of mental phenomena. He included among pure intellections all ideas of its own operations formed by the understanding; all judgments and reasonings; abstract ideas; ideas of primary qualities; ideas of certainty and doubt, of desire and aversion, of virtue and vice. Hutcheson did not discover the origin of these ideas of pure intellect in divine inspiration, as Loudon did. He proposed instead that such ideas are brought to mind by an internal sense. The importance of ideas of internal sensation, which he also called concomitant ideas, has been recognized by students of Hutcheson’s moral philosophy. It will be evident in what follows that ideas of internal sensation were of central significance for Hutcheson’s metaphysics.
The second and third parts of A Compend of Logic, on judgment and discourse, derive very largely from the scholastic logics of Sanderson and Aldrich. And it is remarkable that Hutcheson did not avail himself of the opportunity (as Loudon did) to illustrate his logic by lessons drawn from his metaphysics and his moral philosophy. The lack of originality that characterizes the latter part of A Compend of Logic may explain why it was not published in Hutcheson’s lifetime. It would appear, however, that there was a demand among students at the University of Glasgow for the text. A student’s transcription of the Logic was made in 1749 and bound with the Synopsis Metaphysicae in a duodecimo volume entitled “Logica et Metaphysica Hutcheson.” This transcription has been used in this edition to clarify some anomalies in the published version of the Logicae Compendium.
A Synopsis of Metaphysics
Hutcheson’s A Synopsis of Metaphysics is a work of much greater significance than A Compend of Logic for an appreciation of Hutcheson’s philosophy. Every part of the book exhibits Hutcheson’s distinctive cast of mind. But A Synopsis of Metaphysics was also a derivative work. It was based upon the text regularly assigned students of metaphysics at the University of Glasgow during the first half of the eighteenth century: the Determinationes Pneumatologicae et Ontologicae of the Dutch metaphysician Gerard de Vries. John Loudon informed the faculty that his lectures on metaphysics were based on the work of de Vries. He supplemented that work with arguments of his own, designed to counter “wrong notions some authors endeavour to infuse … [and] the unreasonable pains they are at to introduce skepticism in their Metaphysics. …” He had in mind the writings of Jean Le Clerc, which were, he thought, “industriously stuff ’d with doctrines of a very dangerous tendency. …” Loudon continued to base his lectures on metaphysics on the work of de Vries to the end of his long career. As late as the 1740s, students recalled much later, Loudon “used in solemn peripatetic step to illustrate his own mysterious Compend [of logic] and the still more metaphysical subtleties of de Vries.”
Hutcheson designed his metaphysics to serve as a counterpart to the work of de Vries. He wrote to Thomas Drennan, of A Synopsis of Metaphysics: “I am sure it will match de Vries, and therefore I teach the 3rd part of it De Deo.” In the first part of A Synopsis, he provided a critical commentary on de Vries’s ontology. In opposition to de Vries, for whom the immediate concern of ontology was the traditional Aristotelian preoccupation with being or entities or things, Hutcheson explained being and its modes in terms of ideas. He objected to the identification by scholastics of essence and existence as equivalent terms: existence is suggested to the mind by every sensation and reflection, whereas essences are ideas abstracted from existence and denote the primary attributes of things. Hutcheson’s ontology consisted very largely in the translation of scholastic terms of being into the language of ideas. He considered it a great mistake on the part of scholastic metaphysicians that they had often attributed real or objective existence to their terms: “We must be careful … not to attribute to external things or to objects of ideas those things that belong only to ideas or to words.” He reviewed the various entities or things which were supposed by metaphysicians like de Vries to stand between being and nothing: relations, possibles, entities of reason. Hutcheson argued that these things are nothing but ideas; they may or may not signify objects external to the mind. Hutcheson was working his way through the ontology of de Vries and scholastic metaphysicians to his own distinctive theory of concomitant ideas or ideas of internal sensation which accompany perceptions of the external senses. He would attempt to align his theory of ideas with Locke and use it to counter skeptical uses of the theory of ideas that would deny reality to objects external to the mind.
Finally, he examined the principal divisions of being: independent and dependent; necessary and contingent; finite and infinite; substance and accident; cause and effect. The last particularly requires comment. Hutcheson dispensed with the fourfold classification of causes taken over from the philosophy of Aristotle. He objected to the classification of formal and material causes as causes. He considered efficient causes to include, in effect, both formal and material causes. But he also left a place for final causation that could be best determined by an internal or external sense. He rejected the possibility of an infinite series of causes. And he found no place for contingency in the physical or the moral world. He invoked the Stoic idea that all things, including human actions, were “set and foreseen by God himself.” These were some of the most notable of Hutcheson’s arguments concerning ontology in the first edition of his Metaphysics. He would find other uses for the categories of being that were identified by Aristotle and the scholastics in the second edition of his Metaphysics.
In Part II of his metaphysics, Hutcheson turned to the study of the mind or the spirit or soul, the subject of pneumatics or pneumatology, as it was called by de Vries and other early modern metaphysicians. It was of the first importance in the study of pneumatics to demonstrate that spirits or souls are different from bodies, that the immateriality of the soul provides reasons to believe in the soul’s immortality. Hutcheson rehearsed those arguments—the self-consciousness, the simplicity, the capacity for action of the soul, in contrast with the thoughtlessness, the disaggregation, the inertia of bodies—in the third (originally the first) chapter of Part II. But in order to appreciate the nature of the soul, Hutcheson thought, like Locke, that one must examine the distinctive powers of the human mind, which Hutcheson took to be the understanding and the will. He located the sources of human understanding, as Locke did, in the senses. He attached particular importance to what Locke had called ideas of reflection, which Hutcheson called ideas of internal sensation. Hutcheson liked to remind his readers that Locke too had called ideas of reflection ideas of internal sensation. It is controversial, however, whether Locke would have endorsed many of Hutcheson’s uses for ideas of internal sensation. Locke had been wary of distinguishing faculties of the understanding, on the grounds that this had “misled many into a confused notion of so many distinct agents in us.” Hutcheson entertained no such apprehension. He distinguished a bewildering variety of internal senses, including senses of beauty and virtue, of praise and honor, of novelty, harmony, imitation, and humor. And he insisted that these several senses were all of them innate, although they may be cultivated and reinforced by habit.
The same senses were complemented by desires, which Hutcheson distinguished, following the scholastic distinction employed by de Vries, between lower or sensual desires and higher or rational desires. The mind always fastens upon the desire that is strongest. The will should not be supposed to be a power to turn or direct the mind in any direction it may choose. All that can be meant by the liberty of the will is the liberty or power to act on a desire or refrain from doing what we do not desire, a position he attributed again to Locke. Hutcheson’s idea of power was not, however, like Locke’s, the power to suspend desire; it was rather the importance of recognizing in the mind the presence of rational or calm desires, and of cultivating those desires, as opposed to the more violent desires excited by the body. Hutcheson was careful not to assert that the soul has command over the body (Part II, chapter 4). But he insisted that the cultivation of the internal senses and the calm desires offered the best assurance of the immortality of the soul. While the external senses and the violent desires expire with the body, the soul, reinforced by the nobler senses and desires, may survive the death of the body. It had been accordingly the conviction of the best men, as he considered them, that the imperfections, hardships, and injustices of this life could be compensated in the next, and so “the whole fabric and government of the world becomes fully worthy of the great and good God.”
The concluding part of pneumatics or the science of the soul, Part III of Hutcheson’s Metaphysics, was natural theology or the study by reason, unaided by revelation, of the existence, the attributes, and the providence or operations of God. Hutcheson’s treatment of natural theology is remarkable for its rhapsodic evocation of the harmony, design, and beauty of the world. This way of demonstrating the existence of the creator stands in marked contrast to the revealed theology of Reformed theologians, who argued from the evidence of sin in our fallen human nature to the need for forgiveness of our sins by God. Reformed natural theologians, Gershom Carmichael among them, had attached particular importance to the glory of God, as contrasted with the fallibility of man; they revered especially those attributes of God that could not be shared with or communicated to man. Hutcheson reviewed some of the incommunicable attributes: independence, necessary existence, immutability, incomprehensibility, in Part II, chapter 2; but the attributes of God that he chose particularly to celebrate, in chapters 3 and 4, were the communicable attributes: above all, the benevolence of God. The benevolence of the Creator was manifested in human nature, in our capacity for virtue and in our ability to recognize virtue by a moral sense. Hutcheson’s metaphysics, his ontology and pneumatology, which eventuated in natural theology, provided, in his Latin writings, at least, a metaphysical foundation for his moral philosophy. The latter included his arguments, in many ways distinctive, for the natural sociability of mankind.
On the Natural Sociability of Mankind
Hutcheson was elected Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow in December 1729. He delivered his inaugural lecture, “On the Natural Sociability of Mankind,” almost a year later, in November 1730, on the occasion of his formal admittance to the university. Robert Wodrow, who attended the lecture, reported that “he delivered it very fast and low, being a modest man, and it was not well understood.” Wodrow also said that the subject of the lecture was “on a very safe and general topic,” a judgment he might not have made had he heard it more distinctly. For Hutcheson’s lecture was designed to challenge a number of widely accepted opinions: theological, juridical, and moral. The style of the lecture was engaging; it was written in a style that is conspicuously different from the scholastic idiom of the logic and most (not all) of the metaphysics. His students would later recall that Hutcheson spoke Latin “with abundant ease and fluency; and as his stile was formed on the very best models, particularly Cicero, so it was a pleasure to hear him speak in that language.” His inaugural oration is perhaps the best illustration of this tribute to his spoken Latin.
After some nostalgic recollections of his years as a student at the University of Glasgow—1710-11, as a student in the final undergraduate year; 1711-12, as a student of Greek and Latin literature; 1712-18, as a student of divinity—Hutcheson warmed to his theme. He would consider, first, what qualities of character are natural to man, with regard to moral life; second, whether society, in the absence of government, can be called natural; in each case, he would engage in rhetorical redescription of how the term “natural” should be used in theology and in jurisprudence. The last part of the lecture (more than a third of the text) was a response to his critics, to those moralists who maintained that all moral motivation may be reduced to self-love.
It was one of the dogmas of Reformed or Presbyterian theology that the natural condition of mankind was a state of sin, of fallen human nature. This natural state or condition was preceded by the state of innocence enjoyed by our first parents before the Fall; the state of nature was succeeded by the state of grace, in which the souls of some have been saved by the atonement made by Christ for our sins; and this progression from innocence to sin to grace culminated in the fourth and final state, the eternal state. Hutcheson’s metaphysics allowed him to offer an alternative vision of human nature and the human condition. He had made provision for final causes in his ontology, for internal sensibilities and calm desires in his pneumatology, for the communication of divine attributes, notably benevolence, in his natural theology. He now drew upon his metaphysics to redefine the meaning of the term “natural” as applied to human nature. The nature of a thing, he proposed, can be understood only by considering its final cause or end or purpose, that for which it was originally designed. Human nature was designed to allow men to live in a manner consistent with their internal sensibilities and higher desires. Although weakness and imperfection may be found in the original design of human nature, such weakness should not inhibit or divert us from acting in accordance with our nature: “All our innate desires strive against that weakness and declare that such weakness is not the end of our duties much less the goal which nature has set for our actions.” Hutcheson had redefined the state of nature as it had been understood by the Reformed theologians; he had identified the state of nature with the state of innocence. And he did not hesitate to declare that “Reformed theologians agree with all these doctrines, very rightly pointing to the original fabric and construction of our nature as it once was…. And evident signs of this design and workmanship are preserved, they acknowledge, in the very ruins of its fabric.”
Hutcheson’s redescription of the Reformed doctrine of the state of nature had juridical implications. For not only Hobbes, but also Pufendorf, “the grand Instructor in Morals to all who have of late given themselves to that Study,” as Hutcheson once called him, had depicted the natural condition of mankind in a most unflattering light. Pufendorf described the state of nature as a state of poverty, weakness, and malice. Hutcheson proposed that writers on politics and jurisprudence would be best advised to discontinue use of the term “state of nature.” The condition of mankind in the absence of civil government could be better described as a state of liberty, a usage Hutcheson maintained consistently in his later publications on natural rights and politics. Hobbes and Pufendorf had both fallen into the teachings of the Epicureans, that self-love or the pursuit of pleasure and utility is the source of justice and social life. Hutcheson juxtaposed against this view the opinion of modern critics of Hobbes (Cumberland and Shaftesbury) and of Pufendorf (Titius and Carmichael). Shaftesbury in particular had described social life as a condition sought not only for utility and pleasure but also for itself. We seek sociability not only for the peaceable living and other benefits sociability may afford: we delight in the company of family, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens and rejoice in their happiness and good fortune. Our natural sociability is reinforced by our internal senses of honor and decency, of the honestum and decorum. When human nature is considered in this light, we have many reasons to conclude that men are naturally sociable, that society is natural to man in the absence of government.
The last part of Hutcheson’s lecture (pp. 206-14) was a response to critics who thought that he was mistaken in his understanding of moral motivation; in the judgment of these critics, the motives that prompt us to be virtuous and permit us to live in society are reducible to self-liking or desire for esteem. Two works, both critical of Hutcheson’s moral philosophy on these grounds, were published in the months preceding the inaugural lecture. Bernard Mandeville had written a second volume of The Fable of the Bees (1729) in which he expanded upon his critique of Shaftesbury’s theory of the natural sociability of man and also invited Mr. Hutcheson to consider how much real benevolence and love of country men have, abstracted from their desire to be thought to have such benevolence, even though they feel none. In the previous year (1728) Archibald Campbell’s work Arete-logia; or, An Enquiry into the Original of Moral Virtue was published; the last third of Campbell’s work was devoted to an extended critique of Hutcheson’s moral psychology. In Campbell’s understanding of moral life, other persons are extensions of oneself: children, relatives, friends, persons distant from one in time and place are all perceived to be connected, if only in imagination or by sympathy, with oneself. It is this association, direct or indirect, of others with ourselves that is the source of virtue and morality; we approve of the virtue and good conduct of others because we perceive it to be advantageous to ourselves. And we depend upon the approval or esteem of others to provide a motive for us to be virtuous. It is self-love, as it exhibits itself in the desire for esteem, that is “the great commanding Motive” of moral life. In this light, Campbell held that the benevolence or the instinctive determination to promote the good of others that Hutcheson claimed to find in human nature could be nothing but “an Occult Quality; which is a Part of Philosophy far beyond my Comprehension.”
In opposition to his critics, Hutcheson put before his listeners a number of considerations. He invited all in his audience to consider whether they do not have a natural desire for the happiness of others, even when they expect no advantage to themselves to follow from such a desire. He acknowledged that natural desires also include anger, desire for vengeance, avarice, and ambition, but he reminded his auditors that there are other desires, other senses, of the beautiful and the fitting, which direct and control our basic desires. He objected to the narrow characterization of sociality offered by Mandeville, who thought love of company a quality more likely to be found among fox hunters or sailors on leave than among men of sense; and Campbell, who insisted that each of us is properly selective about the company he keeps. Hutcheson was dismissive of these reservations; he appears to have regarded these criticisms as a caricature of the position he defended: “As if we could be benevolent or have kind and sociable dispositions only toward those whom we would wish to choose as companions and intimates.” It had been complained of Hutcheson’s idea of virtue that it gives us “dark melancholy views of those Pursuits to which we are invited.…” Not so, Hutcheson countered:
Nor when we exhort men to live a good life, harmless, temperate, friendly and beneficent, should anyone think that there is laid upon him anything sour, vexatious, repulsive, or sorrowful, which nature shuns.
He concluded with an appeal to students in his audience: “Go forward, then, in virtue, beloved young men, the hope of this generation and the glory, I trust, of the generation to come. …”
The Dating of Hutcheson’s Logic and Metaphysics
It is possible to date the month and the year of Hutcheson’s inaugural lecture: November 1730. It seems clear that he composed the lecture sometime in the same year, subsequent to his election in December 1729 to the chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow. It is more difficult to fix the dates of composition of the Logic and Metaphysics. As the Professor of Moral Philosophy, Hutcheson did not teach logic and metaphysics (ontology and pneumatology) at the University of Glasgow. Those subjects were taught by the Professor of Logic, John Loudon, who continued to teach them until he died in December 1750, more than four years after Hutcheson’s death in August 1746. Hutcheson taught only the third and last part of metaphysics, natural theology, at Glasgow; the more animated rhetorical style of that part of his metaphysics may reflect this circumstance.
Hutcheson had last taught logic and metaphysics at his academy, in Dublin, in the 1720s. He told Henry Home, in the spring of 1739, in a letter of thanks for the gift of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, books I and II, that “these metaphysical subjects have not been much in my thoughts of late: tho a great many of these sentiments and reasonings had employed me 10 or 12 years ago.” As the master of a dissenting academy, Hutcheson was preparing students for study at a university in Scotland; for most Irish students, the university of choice was Glasgow. It seems most probable that Hutcheson composed A Compend of Logic and A Synopsis of Metaphysics in the 1720s for the instruction of students in his Dublin academy. Moreover, there is no argument in the text of the Logic (as distinct from the prefatory “Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy”) or in the first edition of the Metaphysics (1742) that would require a date of composition later than the 1720s. The case is otherwise with respect to the prefatory Dissertation and the second edition of the Metaphysics. In those parts of his work, it will be evident that he was responding to arguments advanced in writings published in the 1730s (in the second edition of the Metaphysics, 1744), and he was adapting for his own use work published in the 1740s (in the dissertation prefaced to the Logic).
What prompted Hutcheson to publish A Synopsis of Metaphysics in 1742? It appears that it was first published without his knowledge; “It was first most imperfectly and foolishly printed without my knowledge, from some loose hastily wrote papers.” The publisher was his former student and friend Robert Foulis. It is not known how Foulis came to be in possession of the text; Hutcheson may have given it to Foulis with a view to a later publication of a revised version. In the event, Hutcheson remained unhappy with the second edition (1744), which “tho much enlarged and altered, yet I have not leisure, either to examine the whole thoroughly or correct the Latin.” The second edition contained 123 duodecimo pages, compared with 89 pages in the first edition. It is possible to recognize in the alterations made in the second edition a number of notable additions.
Aristotelians, Stoics, and Eclectics
The most conspicuous new material was a chapter (Part I, chapter 5) devoted to the categories of Aristotle. We have seen that it was part of Hutcheson’s strategy, in his Metaphysics as in his Logic, to demonstrate that the things or entities or beings discussed by Aristotelian scholastics could be better understood as ideas brought to mind by an internal sense. In his review of the categories of Aristotle—substance, quantity, quality, and so on—Hutcheson argued again that these categories were best conceived as ideas of internal sensation. In the third edition (1749) he referred the reader to Locke for a parallel treatment of the ideas of substance and time. He appears to have been enlisting the authority of Locke to reinforce an argument that ideas of substance, space, relation, and so on are real ideas that have reference to an objective reality, to things in the world. They are not, like the idea of number, ideas that can be imagined in the absence of things.
In his insistence that the categories of Aristotle are real ideas that refer to objective things external to the mind, Hutcheson may have been responding to a very different understanding of Locke’s way of ideas. Edmund Law had argued, on the authority of Locke, that ideas of space, time, quantity, and quality have no real or objective existence. Like the idea of number, they may be applied to anything that may be measured, “and this very thing demonstrates that they are nothing but Ideas of pure Intellect, and have no regard to the Existence of any external Object. …” In contrast with skeptical uses, like George Berkeley’s and Edmund Law’s, of the way of ideas, Hutcheson acknowledged a particular debt, in the second and third editions of his Metaphysics, to the work of the Scots metaphysician Andrew Baxter. Baxter had argued, following Malebranche, that the soul and its ideas are connected with the physical or objective world by divine intervention, by constant and unvarying laws of nature. Hutcheson would also find in Baxter’s work support for his view that the soul is an immaterial substance different from body, and that the operations of an immaterial divine providence determine the course of the physical world.
Hutcheson’s adaptation of the categories of Aristotle, however consistent with his general determination to locate scholastic entities in ideas of internal sensation, did not extend to Aristotelian or Peripatetic arguments for the liberty of the will. In additions made to discussions of liberty in all three parts of the Metaphysics, Hutcheson reinforced arguments for the Stoic theory in opposition to the Peripatetics. He understood the Stoics to have maintained that the will is determined by a man’s character, by the qualities of his mind, his ideas, his judgment, “and that it cannot happen otherwise.” The Peripatetics, in contrast, made provision for the liberty of the will; that when presented with two species of good, “on the one hand, the right and the good, on the other hand, the pleasant and the useful, they [minds] turn themselves of their own accord in the one direction or the other.” There had been no mention of the Peripatetics in the first edition of the Metaphysics. In the second edition, more elaborate expositions of the Stoic case invariably preceded succinct statements of the Peripatetic position. Hutcheson was at pains, nonetheless, to insist that notwithstanding the more plausible arguments of the Stoics, the Peripatetics were also men of piety. And he appears to have been eager to reconcile Stoics and Peripatetics, albeit in a manner weighted more heavily on the side of the Stoics and the determination of the will:
In any case, however, both sides hold that God has foreseen most things from certain causes, and that he has determined in himself from the beginning that as he is always present and aware of his own omnipotence, he will rule and govern all things by constantly interposing his power, and that he has always kept in view how far and in what directions men’s freedom might stray and how easily he could check it.
Hutcheson’s conviction that Stoics and Peripatetics might be reconciled within a metaphysics founded upon internal sensation may have been indebted to a similar project of synthesis he would have found in the writings of Henry More (1614-87), an author on whom Hutcheson conferred high praise, particularly in the 1740s. In his pedagogical treatment of morals, Hutcheson declared that Aristotle’s theory of the virtues had been most usefully summarized by that most devout man, Henry More. More thought that it was the common opinion of Aristotle and the Stoics “that to follow God or to follow Nature was the same thing as to follow Right Reason.” And he took it to be Aristotle’s considered response to the question where right reason was to be found “that unless a Man have within himself a Sense of things of this Nature, there is nothing to be done. … So that, in short, the final judgment upon this matter is all referred to inward Sense. …” And More concluded his discussion of liberty of the will, as Hutcheson did, by referring the matter to the divine law within us, or right reason, which is to say, an “inward sense,” “by which we are taught and stand bound, to prefer public Good before our private, and never to make our own pleasure or Utility to be the Measure of human Actions.”
There was a precedent in the ancient world for attempts, like More’s and Hutcheson’s, to reconcile Stoics and Peripatetics. This was the characteristic style of the Neoplatonists or “Eclectics” of the third to the sixth century. It is perhaps the most revealing part of Hutcheson’s very short history of the origins of philosophy, prefaced to A Compend of Logic, that he concluded his narrative with a section on “the Eclectics,” ancient and modern. He remarked that while “the best of the ancients … are rightly included among the Eclectics because they were not enslaved to any master,” the term is most properly applied to the Neoplatonists, including Ammonius, Plotinus, and Porphyry; he might have added to this list Simplicius and Nemesius, who are cited and praised elsewhere in his writings. But Hutcheson, more remarkably, also brought under the rubric of the Eclectics moderns “who have pointed out or entered upon a new road”: in physics, Bacon and Newton; in ethics, Grotius, Cumberland, and Pufendorf; and in logic and metaphysics, Locke. Hutcheson’s identification of modern natural scientists, natural jurists, and Locke as “eclectics” may have been merely derivative, like so much else in his pedagogical writings, on the work of others. But Hutcheson also observed that philosophy has been improved by the efforts of those who have edited and interpreted the books of the ancients. And he reminded his readers that it was the Old Academy that was revived by Pico, Ficino, and Shaftesbury. He appears to have been signaling to his readers and students that modern philosophers, the natural scientists, the natural jurists, Locke, should be read and studied in a spirit of eclecticism, bearing in mind the ideas of philosophers (Stoic, Peripatetic, and Platonic) of the ancient world.
W. R. Scott once described Hutcheson’s philosophy as “a mosaic, in being composed of separate borrowings from many sources. …” He described “the final result” as “an eclectic treatment of modern Philosophy, superimposed upon Ancient Eclecticism.” If this is an accurate description of any part of Hutcheson’s philosophy, it applies with particular propriety to the texts included in this volume.