Calderwood The Critic Of Agnosticism -- By: Gabriel Bell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 058:231 (Jul 1901)
Article: Calderwood The Critic Of Agnosticism
Author: Gabriel Bell


Calderwood The Critic Of Agnosticism

Prof. Gabriel Bell

The report just issued by our Commissioner of Education announces the decease of Dr. Henry Calderwood, Professor of Philosophy in Edinburgh University, successor of the well-known Christopher North. Of the remarkable thinkers of the nineteenth century, Professor Calderwood ranks among the strongest and finest. Although called to lecture in leading institutions in this country, and by Yale honored as a guest, as Harvard honored the celebrated Professor Jebb of England, Dr. Calderwood exercised an influence over the thought of the day which has far surpassed its popular recognition. A man of the sturdy build and simple demeanor of our General Grant, not lacking also in Grant’s matter-of-fact intuition and persistency, it may appear that, in his field, he was as truly great. Nay, when the decisive battles for right reason are critically weighed in the light of coming years, Calderwood may be found the greater leader of the two.

My tribute to Dr. Calderwood is inspired by the fact that it was my good fortune to be associated with him for a time during my student days, and to experience somewhat fully the depth of his diviner life and of his friendship, and especially of his power to master not a few of the profoundest problems of the time. Professor Calderwood was some ten years my senior. Most of this period he had spent in the pulpit. His ability as a philosopher, however, displaying itself more and more, he was called to his rightful task as leader of thought in the University of the Athens

of Scotland, three and thirty years ago. My own appointment to the chair of philosophy in this country was so near the same time that when, in 1870, I was on my way to Germany to better my preparation, I found Professor Calderwood in Edinburgh giving his newly devised lectures, and planning likewise to take studies on the Continent; and the following year he joined me in Berlin. The import of our mutual endeavor, particularly of Dr. Calderwood’s career, will be interpreted more clearly by a reference to attending circumstances.

Contemporary with Christopher North, and occupying the coordinate chair of philosophy, was Sir William Hamilton, the greatest of Scotland’s metaphysicians. In philosophy he was the culmination of the Scottish school. A man surpassingly brilliant and learned, his intellectual sons inherit his wealth. One of the honor men of the class of ‘53 was Henry Calderwood; and his preeminent capacity displays itself at once. The first year after graduation he published the “Philosophy of the Infinite.” With a critical vision trained under the master, the pupil detects the vulnerable point in his master’s system; and with ...

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