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Bernard Bosanquet

Who was Bernard Bosanquet?

Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923) was an English Hegelian who taught at University College (from 1870 to 1881) and at St. Andrews (from 1903 to 1908), Oxford. His name was inherited from French Huguenot forebears. He left Oxford when an inheritance enabled him to pursue social activist causes in London. His major works appear as the published editions of the Gifford Lectures that he gave in 1911 and 1912: The

Did Bernard Bosanquet practice what he preached about community values?

Yes, Bosanquet actively served for years, during the 1880s and 1890s and the first two decades of the twentieth century, within a number of charitable and educational organizations such as the London Ethical Society, Charity Organization Society, and the London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy. His Philosophical Theory of the State (1923) and Psychology of the Moral Self (1897) were based on public lectures he gave to adult education groups.

In 1895 he married Helen Dendy, who was a social activist and reformer. She served on the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws from 1905 to 1909. Both Bosanquets believed that the best way to secure social reform was through education that developed individual character. This viewpoint often brought them into conflict with leading socialists of the time.

Principle of Individuality and Value (1912) and The Value and Destiny of the Individual (1913). Bosanquet explained the existence of the Absolute with his own system of logical doctrines; he advocated for community values as opposed to individualism, and he was the leading British philosopher of aesthetics in his day and beyond.

What was Bernard Bosanquet's idealist doctrine?

Bosanquet acknowledged a tremendous debt to Friedrich Hegel's (1770-1831) notion of the Absolute and was modest about his own contributions to Hegelian philosophy, although they were a significant departure. According to Bosanquet, contradictions occur in experiences when there are opposing views of the same fact. Truth is attained by eliminating such contradictions by incorporating them into a larger picture. The totality of human experience contains all of such truths and that is "The Absolute." It can be seen from this that Bosanquet had an empiricist interpretation of Hegel—a view that itself was a contradiction!

Bosanquet also held that the Absolute contains all conflicting desires and satisfies all of them. The value of anything lies in its ability to satisfy desires, so the Absolute is the standard of all values. We can best realize all of our desires by surrendering our particular forms of them to the Absolute. This surrender is religious consciousness.

What were Bernard Bosanquet's main ideas concerning social philosophy?

Humans, said Bosanquet, can only achieve their individual goals within communities. Both individually and collectively, we all wish for those things that produce harmony where once there were conflicting desires. On a community level, this is the general will. Being ruled by the general will results in liberty. The general will is the foundation of the modern state that has as its aim the actualization of what is best for all of its citizens.

What was Bernard Bosanquet's aesthetic theory?

Bosanquet, in his A History of Aesthetic (1892), provided an historical development of beauty. In the ancient world, beauty was imitation, whereas in Hegel's objective idealist philosophy, beauty is reality itself. Following Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), he held that we experience objects as beautiful because they present the structures and organizing qualities of reason in perceptible forms.

 
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