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Bernard Bosanquet (philosopher)

Bernard Bosanquet
Born 14 June 1848
Rock Hall, near Alnwick
Died 8 February 1923(1923-02-08) (aged 74)
Nationality English
Occupation Philosopher
Known for British idealism Neo-Hegelianism

Bernard Bosanquet (; 14 June[1] 1848 – 8 February 1923) was an English philosopher and Helen Bosanquet.


  • Life 1
  • Idealist social theory 2
  • Works 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Born at Rock Hall, near logic, metaphysics, aesthetics and politics. In his metaphysics, he is regarded as a key representative (with F.H. Bradley) of Absolute Idealism, although it is a term that he abandoned in favour of "speculative philosophy."

He was one of the leaders of the so-called Gifford lectures, The Principle of Individuality and Value (1912) and The Value and Destiny of the Individual (1913).

Bosanquet was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1894 to 1898.

Idealist social theory

In his Encyclopedia, Section 95, Hegel had written about "the ideality of the finite." This obscure, seemingly meaningless, phrase was interpreted as implying that "what is finite is not real"[2] because the ideal is understood as being the opposite of the real. Bosanquet was a follower of Hegel and the "central theme of Bosanquet's idealism was that every finite existence necessarily transcends itself and points toward other existences and finally to the whole. Thus, he advocated a system very close to that in which Hegel had argued for the ideality of the finite."[2]

The relation of the finite individual to the whole state in which he/she lives was investigated in Bosanquet's Philosophical Theory of the State (London, 1899). In this book, he "argued that the state is the real individual and that individual persons are unreal by comparison with it."[2] But Bosanquet did not think that the state has a right to impose socialist control over its individual citizens. "On the contrary, he believed that if society is organic and individual, then its elements can cooperate apart from a centralised organ of control, the need for which presupposes that harmony has to be imposed upon something that is naturally unharmonious."[2]


  • The Principle of Individuality and Value, Macmillan, 1912. (Gifford Lectures, 1910–12)
  • The Value and Destiny of the Individual, Macmillan, 1923. (Gifford Lectures, 1910–12)
  • The Philosophical Theory of The State (1899/2001), Kitchener: Batoche Books
  • Knowledge and Reality: A Criticism of Mr F H Bradley's Principles of Logic (1885)
  • The Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art translated and edited (1886)
  • Logic, or The Morphology of Knowledge in two volumes: Volume 1, Volume 2 (1888; revised edition 1911)
  • Essays and Addresses (1891)
  • A History of Aesthetic (1892, second edition 1904)
  • The Civilization of Christendom, and other studies (1893)
  • A Companion to Plato's Republic for English readers (1895)
  • The Education of the Young in the Republic of Plato translated from Books 2,3 and 4(1901)
  • Psychology of the Moral Self (1904)
  • The Essentials of Logic, being ten lectures on Judgment and Inference (1906)
  • The Meaning of Teleology: a lecture read to the British Academy in 1906
  • The Distinction Between Mind And Its Objects (1913)
  • Three Lectures on Aesthetic (1915)
  • Social and International Ideals: being studies in patriotism (1917)
  • Some Suggestions In Ethics (1919)
  • Croce's Aesthetic: a lecture read to the British Academy in 1919
  • Implication and Linear Inference (1920)
  • What Religion is (1920)
  • The Meetings of Extremes in Contemporary Philosophy (1921)


  1. ^ Bernard Bosanquet by Helen Bosanquet, London, 1924, p. 7. Many printed sources report a different, incorrect date, 14 July. The original source of this error is unknown.
  2. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 3, "Idealism", New York, 1967

External links

  • Bernard Bosanquet – Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Bernard Bosanquet entry by William Sweet in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Bernard Bosanquet page
  • Archives Hub: Bosanquet Papers
  • Bernard Bosanquet – The Thoemmes Encyclopedia of the History of Ideas at the Wayback Machine (archived April 24, 2006)
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