LL. D Brownson Orestes Augustus., an American author, born at Stockbridge, Vt., Sept. 16, 1803. In his 19th year he joined the Presbyterian church at Ballston, N. Y., where he was at the time attending an academy; but he afterward changed his views, and became in 1825 a Universalist minister. He preached in different villages of Vermont and New York, and wrote for various religious periodicals in support of his new belief. His ecclesiastical position had grown into disfavor with him, when, making the acquaintance of Robert Owen, he was fascinated by schemes of social reform, and in 1828 he was prominent in the formation of the working men's party in New York, the design of which was to relieve the poorer classes by political organization; but he presently despaired of the effectiveness of this movement. Afterward the writings of Dr. Channing drew his attention to the Unitarians, and in 1832 he became pastor of a congregation of that denomination. In 1836 he organized in Boston the "Society for Christian Union and Progress," of which he retained the pastorate till he ceased preaching in 1843. Immediately after removing to Boston he published his "New Views of Christianity, Society, and the Church," remarkable for its protest against Protestantism. In 1838 he established the " Boston Quarterly Review," of which he was proprietor, and almost sole writer, during the five years of its separate existence,, and to which he contributed largely during the first year after it was merged in the " Democratic Review " of New York. It was designed not to support any definite doctrine, but to awaken thought on great subjects, with reference to speedy and radical changes.
To this end also he published in 1840 " Charles El wood, or the Infidel Converted," a philosophico-religious treatise, in the form of a novel. In 1844 he entered the Roman Catholic communion, to which he has since remained attached. The method which he adopts in his philosophical system is the distinction between intuition (direct perception) and reflection (indirect or reflex knowledge). The mind is unconsciously intuitive; it does not, in intuition, know that it has intuition of this or that truth, because as soon as it knows or is conscious of the intuition it has reflex knowledge. Reflection can contain nothing which is not first in intuition. In order to reflect on that which we know intuitively, we must have some sensible sign by which the mind may apprehend or take hold of it. Such a sign is language, both in the ordinary and figurative sense of the word, which thus holds in the metaphysics of Mr. Brownson a place corresponding to that which tradition holds in his religious system. The knowledge of God, he maintains, is intuitive. The ideal element of every intellectual act is God creating creatures, ens creat existentias.
The later publication's of Mr. Brownson are " The Spirit Rapper " (1854), " The Convert, or Leaves from my Experience" (1857), and "The American Republic" (1865). From 1844 he supported almost single-handed, in Boston and New York, "Brownson's Quarterly Review," devoted especially to the defence of Roman Catholic doctrines, but also discussing politics and literature. This periodical was suspended in 186-4 and revived in 1873. He was invited by Dr. John H. Newman and others to accept a chair in the new university in Dublin, but he preferred to continue his labors in his native country. Translations of several of his works and essays have been published in Europe.