- Bradley, Francis Herbert
- (1846–1924)British absolute idealist . Educated at Oxford, Bradley was awarded a Fellowship at Merton College that gave him complete leisure for his studies and writing: it is said that he only visited Oxford during the vacations. He was the major British absolute idealist, owing much to the influence at Oxford of Green . His Ethical Studies (1876) is a polemical and fertile attack on utilitarianism, largely on the grounds that the self-sufficient individual that it requires does not exist: individuals gain their identities only through community, and to realize oneself is to contribute to social and other ideals. Bradley's logic was similarly an attack on the basis of empiricism in the atomistic relation of experiences and thoughts to things, which he rejected in favour of an acquaintance with general properties and universals. The metaphysical picture to which this leads is one that celebrates unity and wholeness as attributes of the real, with anything partial and dependent upon division, in the way that thought is, regarded by contrast as flawed and contradictory. Truth as formulated in language is always partial, and dependent upon categories that themselves are inadequate to the harmonious whole. Nevertheless these self-contradictory elements somehow contribute to the harmonious whole, or Absolute, lying beyond categorization. Although absolute idealism maintains few adherents today, Bradley's general dissent from empiricism, his holism, and the brilliance and style of his writing continue to make him the most interesting of the late 19th century writers influenced by Hegel . His battles with the new realism of Russell and Moore, and the complex relationship he had with pragmatism, mark a major crux in the history of philosophy. His major works include Ethical Studies (1876), Principles of Logic (1883), and Appearance and Reality (1893). Collections of his essays include Essays in Truth and Reality (1914) and Collected Essays (1935).
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.