The Secret Chain (Francis Hutcheson & Contemproary Ireland)

Phillip Orr


3 in stock

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Francis Hutcheson

The 18th century philosopher, Saintfield born Francis Hutcheson had a powerful influence both in Ireland and beyond and yet is largely forgotten. He was notable for his humane view of mankind: for him there was an inherent goodness in people, that we, and especially children, should not be crippled by the concept of original sin, and hence did not require repressive government. Indeed he argued that we had ‘a right to resistance against despotism and that colonies if unfairly governed had the right ‘to justly constitute themselves into an independent state.’ He was an inveterate opponent of slavery.

As a teacher at a dissenting academy in Dublin and then as Professor of Philosophy at Glasgow University he came to be known as ‘the father of the Scottish enlightenment’ but as teacher of students for the Presbyterian ministry in Ireland some of whom came to support the ideals of the United Irishmen he was just as much the father of our own enlightenment. Others of his students emigrated to the American colonies and his ideas were hugely influential in the American Revolution.

We often celebrate Ulster born American presidents some of whom had at best dubious records, yet we overlook the man whose ideas were central to the creation of the United States. Hutcheson was educated in Killyleagh but there is no memorial to him there. There is a statue to Hans Sloane whose fortune was based on slavery.



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