John Alexander Smith

John Alexander Smith

John Alexander Smith

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John Alexander Smith (1863–1939) was an Idealist philosopher, who was the Jowett Lecturer of philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford, 1896 - 1910, and Waynflete Professor of Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, carrying a Fellowship at Magdalen College in the same university, from 1910 to 1936.

Smith was educated at Inverness Academy, at the collegiate school, Edinburgh, at Edinburgh University (where he was Ferguson classical scholar in 1884), and at Balliol College, Oxford, to which he was admitted as Warner exhibitioner and honorary scholar in Hilary term 1884. His most visible accomplishments was his work with William David Ross on a 12-volume commentary on Aristotle, and his Gifford Lectures for 1929 - 1931 on the Heritage of Idealism, which were never published.

The 'Moral' tag in his Professorial title disappeared with R.G. Collingwood's appointment in 1936. Smith expressed some unease about the combination of 'moral' and 'metaphysical' in his inaugural lecture Knowing and Acting, Oxford : OUP, 1910 : 4-5): The framer of the Chair's regulations, he remarks, describes the Professor's duties 'in a way which rather sets a probem than furnishes guidance. The Professor, he says, 'shall lecture and give instruction on the principles and history of Mental Philosophy, and on its connexion with Ethics.' He distinguishes two great departments of philosophical though86t - so recognizedly different as already to be assigned for separate treatment to two other Professors in the...
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