Malcolm Knox

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For other people named Malcolm Knox, see Malcolm Knox (disambiguation).

Sir Thomas Malcolm Knox FRSE (1900–1980) was an Anglo-Scottish philosopher who served as Principal of St Andrews University from 1953–66 and Vice-president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1975-8.[1]


Knox was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England, on 28 November 1900, the son of Scottish Congregationalist minister James Knox MA and Isabella Marshall. He was educated at Bury Grammar School and the Liverpool Institute, and then at Pembroke College, Oxford where he obtained a first-class degree in Literae Humaniores in 1923. He then worked as secretary to Lord Leverhulme at Lever Brothers before running the business interests of Lever Brothers in West Africa. His first wife died in 1930 and in the following year he became Bursar-Fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Jesus College, Oxford, later becoming a Fellow and Tutor. His interests did not fit in with those then prevailing at Oxford and so he moved to St Andrews University as Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1936, serving also as deputy principal and head of department. He was thus the natural choice as acting principal in 1952 on the death of James Irvine, and was confirmed in position in 1953.[2]

Knox was widely known to philosophers for his translations and commentary of the works of Hegel and for editing the works of R.G. Collingwood. His scholarship was recognised with the award of an Hon. D. Litt. from the University of Glasgow and election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[3]

Whilst Principal of St Andrews, his main task reconcile the interests of the section of the university based in St Andrews with those of the section based in Dundee. However, he later concluded that separation of the two could not be avoided and then decided that it would not be proper to continue in his position as his stated policy had changed. In retirement, he continued to write books, articles and reviews, including translations with commentary upon the writings of Hegel.[2]

Some of his papers are held by Archive Services at the University of Dundee.[3]

He died at 19 Victoria Terrace, Crieff, Tayside, on 6 April 1980.


  1. ^ Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF) II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Sir Malcolm Knox – Former Principal of St Andrews University". The Times. 17 April 1980. p. 16. 
  3. ^ a b "UR-SF 51 Sir Thomas Malcolm Knox". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir James Irvine
Principal of University of St Andrews
1952 – 1966
Succeeded by
John Steven Watson