- Johnson, Samuel
- 1.(1696–1772)American philosopher. A symptomatic figure rather than an independently important philosopher, Johnson was born in Connecticut and taught at Yale. He was instrumental in founding the university of Pennsylvania and Columbia university. His career shows a gradual evolution from narrow New England Calvinism, under the impact of Locke, Newton, and above all Berkeley, with whom Johnson became friendly during the latter's visit to Rhode Island. Johnson became an enthusiastic immaterialist, and defender of free will, tempering the harsh doctrine of predestination even to the point of joining the Church of England. See also plenitude, principle of.2.(1709–1784)The famous English man of letters and author of the Dictionary of the English Language is to be distinguished from the American of the same name. It is the English Johnson whose response to Berkeley was to kick a stone, saying ‘I refute him thus ’, thereby revealing a complete misunderstanding of Berkeley's thought. Johnson's analytical capacities in philosophy (‘we know our will is free, and there's an end on’t’) did not match the intensity of his moral and religious wrestlings, and his conviction that the infidel Hume could not have died in tranquillity is an unattractive instance of someone projecting his own fear of extinction onto others. However, his definition of a lexicographer as a harmless drudge is a consolation to his many followers.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.