Benjamin Rush

ON Christmas eve of 1745 a boy was born on a plantation near Philadelphia. He was given the name of Benjamin. His father, a farmer and gunsmith in his spare time, died when his son was only five years of age. Fortunately, the boy's maternal uncle, Samuel Finley, was a prominent educator who took charge of his nephew's studies and in due time sent him to the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), of which he was a trustee and subsequently president. When the time came to choose a career, Rush decided upon becoming a doctor, but, after a few additional years of study, arrived at the conclusion that the only place to get an adequate training in medicine was Europe. Accordingly, he got enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he received his medical degree in 1768.

On his return to Philadelphia, Rush opened an office, and his practice began to grow quite fast; shortly afterwards he was given an opportunity to teach chemistry at the College of Philadelphia. Both as a practitioner and teacher, he proved to be very successful, and deservedly so; for he was more interested in his work than in getting material benefits out of it. To the poor he was a sincere benefactor; to the well-to-do, he was the best trained and the most capable physician, not only in the city, but in the whole land. His students, too, found his teaching highly instructive and interestingly presented; this opinion spread and endured, and more students flocked to his classes.

In spite of these high qualifications -- or possibly because of them -- his career was rather rocky, for he was very responsive to human misery, liberal in his convictions, and highly productive of new ideas, all qualities that are often disliked. For instance, he was ardently opposed to slavery and became co-founder, with J. Pemberton, of the first Anti-Slavery Society in America ( 1803). He also recognized the dangers of spreading alcoholism and suggested measures to curb it. He was shocked by the cruelty and irrationality of our penal institutions at the time, called for thorough reforms as well as for abolition of capital punishment,

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American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Introduction - Orientation of Thought xi
  • Suggested Readings xviii
  • Part I - Fields and Problems of American Philosophy 1
  • The Philosophy of Science: The Problem of Factual Truth 3
  • Suggested Readings 19
  • Axiology: the Problem Of Human Values 21
  • Suggested Readings 33
  • Aesthetics: the Problem of Art And Beauty 34
  • Suggested Readings 47
  • Ethics: the Problem of Morality 49
  • Suggested Readings 63
  • Semantics: the Problem Of Meaning 64
  • Suggested Readings 82
  • Logic: the Problem of Reasoning 84
  • Suggested Readings 97
  • Metaphysics: the Problems Of Knowledge and Existence 98
  • Suggested Readings 113
  • Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Faith 114
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Part II - Sources and Choices of Philosophy 129
  • Transcendentalism 131
  • Suggested Readings 137
  • Idealism 138
  • Suggested Readings 146
  • Thomism 147
  • Suggested Readings 154
  • Personalism 155
  • Suggested Readings 161
  • Pragmatism 162
  • Suggested Readings 171
  • Humanism 172
  • Suggested Readings 182
  • Logical Positivism 183
  • Suggested Readings 191
  • Realism 193
  • Suggested Readings 202
  • Naturalism 203
  • Suggested Readings 210
  • Oriental Philosophy in America 211
  • Part III - American Thinkers 221
  • American Thought: A Chart 223
  • William Penn 227
  • Samuel Johnson 230
  • Jonathan Edwards 233
  • Benjamin Franklin 235
  • Thomas Paine 238
  • Thomas Jefferson 241
  • Benjamin Rush 244
  • William Ellery Channing 247
  • John Caldwell Calhoun 250
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 253
  • Abraham Lincoln 256
  • Henry David Thoreau 259
  • Walt Whitman 262
  • Robert Green Ingersoll 265
  • Charles Sanders Peirce 268
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 271
  • John Fiske 274
  • William James 277
  • Ambrose Bierce 280
  • Borden Parker Bowne 283
  • Josiah Royce 285
  • John Dewey 288
  • George Santayana 291
  • Morris Raphael Cohen 294
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt 297
  • Suggested Readings 300
  • Conclusion 303
  • Index 311
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