Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Isabel Rivers and David L. Wykes

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215300

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215300.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 July 2021

Joseph Priestley, Metaphysician and Philosopher of Religion

Joseph Priestley, Metaphysician and Philosopher of Religion

(p.80) 3 Joseph Priestley, Metaphysician and Philosopher of Religion
Joseph Priestley, Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian

James Dybikowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Priestley's philosophical thought. It argues that Priestley's chief importance as a philosophical theorist lies in keeping alive, clarifying, and deepening lines of thought under threat of being marginalized as the exclusive preserve of unbelievers. His championing of the cause of necessity made it easier to entertain such a view impartially and more difficult to dismiss it out of hand. His spirited defence of the doctrines of necessity and materialism has been singled out for praise by the likes of the Victorian scientist T. H. Huxley, who found his ‘among the most powerful, clear, and unflinching expositions of materialism and necessarianism which exist in the English language’. As James Harris observes, Priestley's formulation of the doctrine of necessity became the point of departure for defenders of necessity for the next forty years in Britain, particularly among dissenters. As for his third major philosophical interest — the association of ideas — he served as a champion of Hartley through his edition, but the loss of his manuscript during the Birmingham riots meant that this potential legacy was left unrealized.

Keywords:   metaphysics, philosophy, materialism, doctrine of necessity, religion, morality, association of ideas

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .