Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583

Edinburgh has a distinguished place in the history of philosophy. David Hume was a student at the University between 1722 and 1726, and lived in Edinburgh for most of his life (He was passed over for the Chair of Ethical and Pneumatical Philosophy, in 1745, on grounds of atheism).

Adam Smith delivered public lectures at the University between 1748 and 1751, which were sponsored by The Philosophical Society, later the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Smith composed An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) at his home in nearby Kirkaldy. 

Adam Ferguson and Dugald Stewart, both leading figures of the 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment (along with Hume and Smith), were members of the University's philosophy faculty.

Other members have included Sir William Hamilton, A.E. Taylor, Norman Kemp Smith, John Macmurray and W.H. Walsh.

Norman Kemp Smith

Chair of Logic and Metaphysics, 1919-1945

Chairs of Moral Philosophy and Logic & Metaphysics

List of Chairs from 1708 to the present day

Edinburgh Philosophy’s endowed speaker series


Further information

The 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment

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