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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

James Frederick Ferrier (1845-1864) was one of the first post-Hegelian British idealists, developing his idealism via a rejection of Thomas Reid’s common sense philosophy and from a reappraisal of Berkeley’s idealism. This chapter is a critical consideration of his major work, the Institutes of Metaphysic (1854) in which he develops a complete system of metaphysics. From an examination of the laws of knowledge and by applying the deductive method he determines that the absolute in cognition (knowledge or ignorance) is an indivisible subject-object synthesis and it follows from this that absolute existence must involve some self in union thoughts and things. His move from knowing to being is problematic and in this way his ontology falls short of his ambitious aims. Nevertheless, Ferrier provides an unusual and astute idealist epistemology several years before idealism became influential in British philosophy.

Keywords: Epistemology, Idealism, Absolute, Deduction/deductive reasoning, Law/principle of non-contradiction

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