Death of Idealist Philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley

Death of Idealist Philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley

Francis Herbert Bradley

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English idealist Francis Herbert Bradley dies in Oxford, England. One of the most important and famous of the advocates of British Idealism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was influential not just with other philosophers but also with British society generally.

From his idealistic perspective he wrote about subjects as diverse as logic, metaphysics, and ethics, making important contributions at every turn. Nevertheless, it is his influence on Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore for which he is best remembered because it was his ideas which inspired them and helped them revolutionize contemporary philosophy.

In the field of ethics, Bradley heaped scorn upon the ideas behind utilitarianism; in particular, his distaste for hedonistic utilitarianism seems to have had no bounds. Bradley argued that morality and happiness could have nothing do to with each other, and the idea that the pleasure should guide moral actions was incoherent. Instead, he wrote that the end for morality must be "self-realization," by which he did not merely mean self-interest.

According to Bradley, the "self" to be realized was not the "self" to be pleased; instead the basis for morality must be found in the human community where morality is developed. In effect, morality should be regarded as an end in itself where individuals identify their own wills with some higher ideal and then try to conform to that ideal as closely as possible. This ideal, in turn, is in large part a creation of the social milieu in which people find themselves.

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