Bernard Bosanquet

Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923), British philosopher, political theorist and social reformer, was a principal exponent (with F. H. Bradley) of late 19th and early 20th Century Absolute Idealism. He strong influenced political and social policy in Britain, but his work was later criticized by the neo-intelligentsia, the atheists and materialist thinkers, notably Bertrand Russell, John Dewey and William James.

Bosanquet studied at Balliol College, Oxford (1867–1870), where he was influenced by German idealist philosophy, principally through his teacher T. H. Green and the work of Benjamin Jowett. Upon graduation, Bosanquet was elected to a Fellowship of University College, Oxford, over F.H. Bradley. While there he taught the history of logic and the history of moral philosophy.

From 1881 to 1903, Bosanquet worked in London in the fields of adult education and social work. During this period, he published his major works, which grew from his public lectures. In 1903, Bosanquet became Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. In 1910, he was appointed Gifford Lecturer in the University of Edinburgh for 1911 and 1912. The lectures — The Principle of Individuality and Value and The Value and Destiny of the Individual — admirably express his metaphysical views.

Sweet writes, "Bosanquet's thought shows a number of similarities to that of T.H. Green, his teacher, and to Bradley, his contemporary. Bosanquet himself acknowledges that these similarities are far from coincidental. He frequently admits his debt to Green's works and, as late as 1920, he wrote that

since the appearance of Ethical Studies … I have recognized [Bradley] as my master; and there is never, I think, any more than a verbal difference or difference of emphasis, between us. (Letter to Lello Vivante, 27 March 1920, cited in Muirhead 1935, p. 262)

"Bosanquet's philosophical views on religion were in large part influenced by early nineteenth century biblical studies — initially, mediated through the writings of Green, Edward Caird, and Benjamin Jowett."

Bosanquet's works include: Knowledge and Reality: A Criticism of Mr. F. H. Bradley's 'Principles of Logic' (1885); Logic, or the Morphology of Knowledge (1888); A History of Aesthetic (1892); The Essentials of Logic: Being Ten Lectures on Judgment and Inference (1895); Psychology of the Moral Self (1897); The Philosophical Theory of the State (1899); The Principle of Individuality and Value, the Gifford Lectures for 1911 delivered in Edinburgh University (1912); What Religion Is (1920); The Meeting of Extremes in Contemporary Philosophy (1921); and Three Chapters on the Nature of Mind (1923).

Selected Works of Bernard Bosanquet

Knowledge and Reality
» Read it here »

Psychology of the Moral Self
» Read it here »

What Religion Is
» Read it here »

On Hegel and German Idealism
» Read it here »

The Kingdom of God on Earth
» Read it here »

On the Philosophical Distinction between Knowledge and Opinion
» Read it here »

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Bernard Bosanquet
British Idealist Philosopher,
political theorist, social reformer
Professor of Moral Philosophy,
University of St. Andrews 1903–1907
Fellow of the British Academy 1907



Sweet, William, "Bernard Bosanquet", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Summer 2016 Edition [accessed March 19, 2019].

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