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Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism

Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism

Edited by William Sweet
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  • Book Info
    Bernard Bosanquet and the Legacy of British Idealism
    Book Description:

    William Sweet and other leading scholars examine Bosanque';s contribution to some of philosophy's central questions. They provide a solid introduction to British Idealism and the idealist movement as a whole, and bring the scholarship on Bosanquet fully up-to-date.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8405-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Rediscovering Bosanquet
    (pp. 3-30)

    At his death on 8 February 1923, the idealist philosopher and social theorist Bernard Bosanquet was described as ʹthe central figure of British philosophy for an entire generation.ʹ¹ He had published major volumes in, and made significant contributions to, logic, aesthetics, metaphysics, and political philosophy; had authored important studies in religion, psychology, and the history of philosophy; and had translated or edited work by Plato, Hegel, and Rudolf Hermann Lotze. He had also been a well-known figure in social and public policy, was part of the movement that brought university-level education to a broad public, and was one of the...

  5. History

    • 1 ʹThe Restoration of a Citizen Mindʹ: Bernard Bosanquet and the Charity Organisation Society
      (pp. 33-49)
      S.M. DEN OTTER

      A striking feature of late Victorian public debate about poverty was its infusion with philosophical language and principle. When the Fabian Beatrice Webb identified her most vigorous opponents in the battle over the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, she singled out ʹthe Hegeliansled by Bosanquet, clinging to the ʺcategory of the destitute.ʺ ʹ¹ Bernard Bosanquet was then widely regarded as the ex-cathedra philosopher of the Charity Organisation Society (COS), the premier philanthropic agency in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. For almost twenty-five years, he and Helen Dendy, whom he later married, helped lead the organization, retiring before its...

    • 2 Social Holism and Communal Individualism: Bosanquet and Durkheim
      (pp. 50-70)

      In terms of the philosophical traditions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it is notable that idealist thinkers can be described as being bothpoliticalandsocialphilosophers. The concepts of bothsocietyandstateform crucial motifs, both being fully integrated into the larger systematic structures of idealist thought. However, the subtle and insistent emphasis placed on the concept of society – as nonetheless subtly and structurally related to the state and prefaced in Hegelʹs rich distinctions between civil society (and the system of needs) and the state – is relatively unique in political philosophy, even to the present...

  6. Logic

    • 3 Bosanquet and the Problem of Inference
      (pp. 73-89)

      In chapter 2 ofOur Knowledge of the External World, entitled ʹLogic as the Essence of Philosophy,ʹ Bertrand Russell dismisses idealistic logic. In a passage that might be challenged in a number of ways, Russell says:

      Hegel and his followers widened the scope of logic … In their writings logic is practically identical with metaphysics … Hegel believed that, by means ofa priorireasoning, it could be shown that the worldmusthave various important and interesting characteristics, since any world without these characteristics would be impossible and self-contradictory. Thus what he calls ʹlogicʹ is an investigation of the...

    • 4 Bosanquet, Idealism, and the Justification of Induction
      (pp. 90-110)

      In what follows I would like to consider some aspects of what is seen by many as an important but frustrating topic – the justification of inductive inference. And, specifically, I want to examine how some of the great idealist writers – especially Bernard Bosanquet – viewed this matter. To begin, though, let us recall the difficulty as described by David Hume.¹

      The problem, simply put, is that since all inductive inference must assume the truth of the principle ʹthe future will resemble the pastʹ (or ʹsame cause, same effectʹ or ʹonce true, always trueʹ), and given that this inductively...

  7. Aesthetics and Education

    • 5 Bosanquet, Aesthetics, and Education: Warding off Stupidity with Art
      (pp. 113-126)

      Bosanquet wrote no definitive treatise on education, but, like most philosophers, he was not without views about the past, present, or future state of the system of education of his times.¹ He was interested in all the usual questions about education: the sociological impact of curriculum (e.g., Should Latin be abandoned in favour of health studies to help improve the sanitation conditions of the poor?); the aims and ends of education; and the importance of moral lessons and the pedagogical methods best suited to the development of good character and civic virtues in the young. Bosanquet was a popular choice...

    • 6 Bosanquet, Santayana, and Aesthetics
      (pp. 127-144)

      In the Department of Philosophy at Harvard in 1891 were William James, Josiah Royce, George Herbert Palmer, George Santayana, and Hugo Münsterberg, a quintet of striking personalities, each differing from the other four in many convictions and opinions, while dwelling together in fraternal harmony. Apart from their distinction as scholars, every one was a literary artist. They all knew how to write, not merely with force and with what clearness is possible on such themes, but with that beauty of expression that belongs only to consummate mastery of style. And the best writer among them, although he was overshadowed by...

  8. Metaphysics and Religion

    • 7 The Balance of Extremes: Metaphysics, Nature, and Morals in the Later Philosophy of Bernard Bosanquet
      (pp. 147-177)

      In his last complete¹ book,The Meeting of Extremes in Contemporary Philosophy, Bosanquet struggled to sustain what he took to be the philosophical centre against forms of realism and idealism which he believed would plunge us into irrationality. He also struggled against what remained of the simplistic progressivism of the blissful Edwardian world that collapsed on the outbreak of the First World War, as well as against those who proposed to go back to the fantasies of an ideal ancient or medieval world. Those who thought the current view of the world must always be the best met with his...

    • 8 Bosanquet and Religion
      (pp. 178-206)
      T.L.S. SPRIGGE

      In his valuable study of Bosanquetʹs religious thought Kia Tcheng Houang distinguishes two periods in its development. According to Houang, in his writings of 1889 and 1893 (when he was in his early forties) Bosanquet was more of a humanist than an absolute idealist. But by 1911, so Houang says, when he was sixty-three he was an absolute idealist. Somewhere in the intervening years, therefore, his position shifted,¹ and Houang sees the main cause of this in the publication of BradleyʹsAppearance and Realityin 1893.²

      I cannot quite go along with Houang on this, and I am glad to...

  9. Moral and Political Philosophy

    • 9 Bosanquet and State Action
      (pp. 209-231)

      My aim is to understand Bosanquet on the subject of the proper extent of action, legislative and other, by the state or its agencies, on behalf of society, that unavoidably involves at some stage what Bosanquet, inThe Philosophical Theory of the State, calls ʹforce and menace.ʹ¹ I find Bosanquetʹs writings in this whole area difficult, and some of his conclusions counter-intuitive and, at first sight, less adequate than T.H. Greenʹs. Even though Bosanquet often claims that he is following Green, and indeed is frequently very close to Green when he formulates general principles, when the principles are applied in...

    • 10 Bosanquet, Perfectionism, and Distributive Justice
      (pp. 232-244)

      In his bookPerfectionism, Thomas Hurka claims that Bernard Bosanquet is ʹthe most important perfectionist defender of the free market.ʹ¹ This remark assumes at least two things about Bosanquet: first, that he is an adherent to what Hurka and others refer to as the moral theory of perfectionism; and second, that Bosanquet is a staunch supporter of laissezfaire capitalism and perhaps the inequalities that such a system generates. Although I am in complete agreement with Hurkaʹs first assumption about Bosanquet, I have some reservations about his second. In this paper, then, I wish to show how Bosanquetʹs ethical theory is...

  10. Legacy

    • 11 A New Leviathan among the Idealists: R.G. Collingwood and the Legacy of Idealism
      (pp. 247-266)

      R.G. Collingwood is often labelled an ʹidealistʹ and thereby dismissed or accepted according to philosophical taste. And yet he has a philosophical reputation independent of this idealist connection.¹ This raises the issue of his precise relation to the British idealist tradition, which in turn raises the issue of the unity of that tradition itself. In the first part of this paper I shall make some general remarks concerning Collingwoodʹs place in the tradition whose leading members included T.H. Green, F.H. Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet, H.H. Joachim, and J.A. Smith; in the second part I shall examine his critique of an argument...

    • 12 Bosanquet on the Ontology of Logic and the Method of Scientific Inquiry
      (pp. 267-296)

      Bernard Bosanquet developed his views on logic in a number of works, and in particular in hisLogic.¹ This work contains, alongside its own account of philosophical logic, a series of criticisms of empiricism. Among these are criticisms of the empiricist account of laws of nature and of the logical nature of inquiry into them. Bosanquet in particular criticizes the doctrine that laws are mere regularities. In making this criticism, he has been echoed by more recent philosophers, including Fred Dretske and David Armstrong. I shall argue, however, that Bosanquet develops the position much more convincingly: he faces squarely, and...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-308)
  12. Index
    (pp. 309-313)