Cornhill Magazine,  1 (1860), 366–79.

Student Life in Scotland

[Eneas S Dallas]




Universities, Education, Mathematics, Dissection, Class, Metaphysics, Psychology, Lecturing

Institutions mentioned:

University of Cambridge , University of Oxford

    Asks, 'Are mathematics confined to the reeds of Cam [...]?' (366), and suggests instead that 'learning may be obtained elsewhere than at college. For that matter, indeed, most men are self-educated' (366–67). In arguing that the principal purpose of a university is to provide society, proposes that the great defect of Scottish universities is the lack of the 'society of equal minds' (377), and notes that University College London is 'in this respect a type of the Scottish university system'. In this system, the 'student who has all the morning been dissecting dead bodies [...] returns to dine with his sisters'. (368) The Scottish system, however, has the advantage that 'university education is open to the peasant not less than to the peer' (374–75). Also remarks that 'the study of the human mind [...] is pursued with great ardour in the Scottish universities', and observes that it is 'simply psychology—that is to say, the natural history of the human mind' which is taught there, rather than metaphysics. This 'knowledge of men obtained in the scientific analysis of the class-room' is 'not to be found in the English universities'. (376) Dallas also discusses the lecturing style of William Hamilton at the University of Edinburgh (under whom he studied philosophy in the 1840s), who encouraged the student to enter into a 'regular tussle with his master about the action of the mind in sleep, and in a state of semi-consciousness' (377).

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