Robert Flint

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Robert Flint FRSE (1838–1910) was a Scottish theologian and philosopher who wrote also on sociology.


Flint's home at 3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh
The grave of Prof Robert Flint, Liberton Cemetery, Edinburgh

He was born in Applegarth in Dumfriesshire on 14 March 1838.[1]

He was the son of Robert Flint, at that time a farm overseer, and his wife, Grace Johnston. His first school was at Moffat. In 1852, he entered Glasgow University, where he distinguished himself (without graduating) in arts and divinity.[2]

Having been employed as a lay missionary by the 'Elders' Association' of Glasgow, he was licensed to preach in 1858, and for a short time acted as assistant to Norman Macleod (1812–1872), at the Barony Church, Glasgow. He was minister of the East Church, Aberdeen from 1859 to 1862) and of Kilconquhar church in Fife from 1862 to 1864, a small country village parish, which gave him leisure for study, improved by visits to Germany.[2]

On the death of James Frederick Ferrier in 1864, Flint was elected to succeed him in the moral philosophy chair at St. Andrews University, among the competing candidates being Thomas Hill Green. This chair he held till 1876, when he succeeded Thomas Jackson Crawford in the divinity chair of Edinburgh University. On this appointment he was awarded doctorates by both Glasgow University (LLD) and Edinburgh University (DD). Thomas Chalmers had similarly migrated from the one chair to the other.[2]

Flint was appointed to a number of foundation lectureships. He was Baird lecturer (1876-7); in 1880 he crossed to America, and delivered a course as Stone lecturer at Princeton; in 1887-8 he was Croall lecturer. He was elected on 21 May 1883 corresponding member of the Institute of France (Académie des sciences morales et politiques), and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1880. His proposers were Sir Robert Christison, Sir Alexander Grant, Alexander Campbell Fraser and Peter Guthrie Tait He served as Vice President to the Society for three sessions: 1886-1892; 1893-1899; and 1902-1907.[3]

He resigned his chair in 1903 to devote himself to literary work, a purpose hampered by failing health. For some time he lived at Musselburgh. He delivered the Gifford lectures in 1908-9.

He died, unmarried, at his residence, 5 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, on 25 November 1910.[2] In 2015 the building was occupied by a restaurant and hotel.[4]

He is buried against the eastern wall of the old south section of Liberton Cemetery in south Edinburgh.


  • Christ's Kingdom upon Earth (1865) sermons
  • Philosophy of History in France and Germany (1874)
  • Theism (1877) Baird Lectures 1876/7
  • Anti-Theistic Theories (1879) Baird Lectures 1876/7
  • Vico (1884)
  • Historical Philosophy in France (1894)
  • Socialism (1894)
  • Sermons and Addresses (1899)
  • Agnosticism (1903)
  • Philosophy as scientia scientarum (1904)


  1. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gordon 1912.
  3. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 
  4. ^ "21212 - The Wizard in the Kitching.". Bite Magazine. 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGordon, Alexander (1912). "Flint, Robert". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co.