Alfred Edward Taylor

Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

The Faith of a Moralist

In his first series of lectures, Taylor examines whether ethics is an autonomous science, not requiring religious support or theological convictions. He asks whether morality involves any presuppositions which point beyond itself, and whether these are found in the sphere of ‘religion’.  In his second series, he notes that there are three central themes for the moral life: God, grace, and eternal life. He argues that attaining the right balance between them would be the ‘absolute’ religion for humankind.


Alfred Edward Taylor was born on 22 December 1869 in Oundle, England. A British idealist philosopher, he is best known for work on metaphysics, the philosophy of religion, and the scholarship of Plato. Achieving a Prize Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford, in 1891, Taylor became Assistant Lecturer in Greek and Philosophy at the University of Manchester in 1896. Appointed Frothingham Professor of Philosophy at McGill University in 1903, he moved on as Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews in 1908. He ended his career as Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, retiring in 1941. 

Made Fellow of the British Academy in 1911, he was also made Honorary Fellow of New College, Oxford in 1931 and President of the Aristotelian Society in 1928. A strong Anglo-Catholic, he contributed to Essays Catholic and Critical (1926). Noteworthy publications include Elements of Metaphysics (1903), Plato (1908), Epicurus (1911), Plato: The Man and His Work (1926), David Hume and the Miraculous (1927), Socrates (1932), Philosophical Studies (1934), The Christian Hope of Immortality (1938), and Does God Exist? (1945). 

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