George Sylvester Morris

George Sylvester Morris (November 15, 1840 – March 23, 1889) was a 19th-century American educator and philosophical writer.

George Sylvester Morris
Born(1840-11-15)November 15, 1840
DiedMarch 23, 1889(1889-03-23) (aged 48)
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAristotelian idealism[1]
Main interests
History of philosophy


Morris was born in Norwich, Vermont.[3] He was the son of a well known abolitionist and temperance man. In 1861, he graduated from Dartmouth College, served in the Union army for two years during the American Civil War, and taught at Dartmouth in 1863–1864.

He studied philosophy and theology at Union Theological Seminary (New York) and then in Germany (under Hermann Ulrici and Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg)[1] for several years, after which, in 1870, the University of Michigan appointed him professor of modern languages and literature. He arranged for John Dewey's first college level teaching position at the University of Michigan. He was also offered the chair of philosophy at Bowdoin College, which he declined in view of Bowdoin's wish for some assurance of his soundness in Christian doctrine. In January 1878 he gave twenty lectures at Johns Hopkins University (Hopkins Hall Lectures, which were open to the public) on the history of philosophy. He continued lecturing regularly at Hopkins through 1884, on such topics as British philosophy, German aesthetics, and ethics. In 1881, he was appointed to the chair of ethics, history of philosophy, and logic at Michigan. In 1883 he became chair of the Michigan department, a position he held until his death. At Johns Hopkins Morris was one of John Dewey's main teachers. He also gave a course of twelve public lectures on British Thought and Thinkers (which he would later publish in book form).


Morris published a translation of Ueberweg's History of Philosophy (two volumes, 1872–74) and an edition of Philosophical Classics by Gregg, and he wrote:

  • British Thought and Thinkers (1880)
  • Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Exposition (1882)
  • Philosophy and Christianity (1883)
  • Hegel's Philosophy of the State and of History (1887)


  1. ^ a b Steven Rockefeller, John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism, Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 78: "[Morris's] studies with Trendelenburg left him with the lasting conviction that philosophy must be grounded in scientific methods of truth, but Trendelenburg guided him away from British empiricism to an Aristotelian idealism."
  2. ^ Robert Mark Wenley, The Life and Work of George Sylvester Morris, Macmillan, 1917, p. 139.
  3. ^ "Morris, George Sylvester". Vermont in the Civil War. Retrieved July 3, 2014.

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