Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


George Campbell (1719-1796) is now recognized as one of the leading eighteenth-century philosophers of rhetoric, but is otherwise little known. In his own time, however, he was famous for his religious and apologetic writings, and for his leadership within the Church of Scotland. Recent scholars have attempted to examine his place within the histories of both rhetorical theory and philosophy. But they have made little effort to understand his religious thought, and have consequently failed to understand either his larger intentions or the place therein of The Philosophy of Rhetoric itself.;This study seeks to redress this imbalance by exploring the whole structure, direction and context of Campbell's thought. The first part of this study provides the most comprehensive overview of his life and works to date, using hitherto unexploited primary and manuscript sources. The second and third parts analyse Campbell's structure of thought by means of a common eighteenth-century model which divided knowledge according to its two major sources, that is, nature and revelation. Part two, which examines Campbell's conception of natural knowledge, surveys his theoretical contributions to common eighteenth-century philosophical issues, including Common Sense philosophy, and his practical contributions to debates concerning the uses of historical and testimonial evidences, and textual criticism. Part 3, which explores Campbell's conception of revealed knowledge, considers his contributions to contemporary religious thought, and his relation to eighteenth-century Scottish moderatism.;This study argues that Campbell was fully a man of the Enlightenment without being any less a sincere and pious Christian. In fact, it demonstrates that Campbell's Christian moderatism and apologetic strategy, like those of many of his contemporaries, were founded upon the scholarship of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, this study also shows that Campbell directed all of his enlightened labours to thoroughly Christian ends, and that he ultimately united the natural and revealed realms of knowledge to serve those ends. If Campbell is indeed one of the Enlightenment's more typical representatives, as is here argued, then the Enlightenment itself cannot be viewed as inherently hostile to religion. Even Campbell's rhetorical theory cannot be properly understood apart from his religious teleology.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.