|Administrative History||Aberdeen Philosophical Society (1758 - 1773) fostered some of the most significant works of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Thomas Reid's An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense (1764), and George Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric (1776) ( Minutes of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, 1758-1773 , ed. by Lewis H. Ulman, Aberdeen University Studies, 158, (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1990)). Its 6 founding members were George Campbell (1719 - 1796), Professor of Divinity and Principal, Marischal College; John Gregory (1724 - 1773), Professor of Philosophy, King's College, later Physician; Thomas Reid (1710 - 1796), Regent, King's College, later Professor of Moral Philosophy, Glasgow; David Skene (1731 - 1770), physician; John Stewart (c 1708 - 1766), Professor of Mathematics, Marischal College; and Robert Trail (1720 - 1775), Professor of Oriental Languages, later Professor of Divinity, Glasgow; and during its lifetime a further 9 elected members were invited to join the group. These were John Farquhar (1732 - 1768), Scottish church minister; Alexander Gerard (1728 - 1795), Professor of Logic and Moral Philosophy, Marischal College, later Professor of Divinity, King's College; Thomas Gordon (1714 - 1797), Professor of Humanity, King's College; John Ross (c 1730 - c 1800), Professor of Hebrew, King's College; James Beattie (1735 - 1803), Professor of Philosophy and Logic, Marischal College, philosopher, and poet; George Skene (1742 - 1803), Professor of Natural Philosophy, later Professor of Civil and Natural History, Marischal College, and physician; William Ogilvie (1736 - 1819), Professor of Philosophy, later Professor of Humanity, King's College; James Dunbar (1742 - 1798), Regent, King's College; William Trail (1746 - 1831), Professor of Mathematics, Marischal College, later minister of the Church of Ireland. |
For further details about the society, its activities and members, see Minutes of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, 1758-1773 , ed. by Lewis H. Ulman, Aberdeen University: Studies, 158 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1990
Thomas Gordon was born in 1714, the son of George Gordon, professor of Hebrew at King’s College, Aberdeen, from 1693 to 1730. Thomas Gordon graduated MA there in 1731 and held various university appointments from 1734 until his death in 1797, as Humanist, Regent, and finally Professor of Greek. He was the grandson of George Gordon, Principal of the College in 1684. His great-uncle Patrick Gordon was Professor of Hebrew from 1674 to 1693. Thomas Gordon was also the grandfather (by his eldest child, Elizabeth) of Robert Eden Scott, who held a number of posts at King’s College. His collections of manuscripts relating to staff and students formed a valuable source of information for the compilation of the works on the history of the universities of Aberdeen and their alumni edited by P. J. Anderson (c 1850-1926).
Robert Eden Scott was born in 1770 in Old Aberdeen, into a family long connected with King’s College, Aberdeen, and graduated with an MA from the College in 1785. He was appointed regent in 1788 and entered an arrangement whereby he held the chairs of Natural Philosophy, Greek, Mathematics and Moral Philosophy interchangeably with other professors. In 1800 he became Professor of Moral Philosophy, adhering to the Scottish school and producing several writings on the subject, until his death in 1811.
|Custodial History||The papers came to light in 1982 in a deed box of miscellaneous material from King's College. The records relating to the University were extracted and joined the main University archive collections. It appears that the papers of Gordon had survived in the possession of his grandson Robert Eden Scott who preserved them together with his own personal and academic papers. The immediate explanation for these packages probably lies in the researches of WL Davidson, Professor of Logic (1895-1926), whose notes remain with the bundles and who completed research on the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. It is probable that the material was also at some point part of a larger collection including the Gordon and Scott material already deposited in the archives. |
For more information see a survey report by Dorothy Johnston in 'Northern Scotland', vol 5, number 2, 1983.