British Moralists and the Internal 'Ought' : 1640-1740
by Stephen L. Darwall.
A major work in the history of ethics provides
the first study of early modern British philosophy in several
decades, discerning two distinct traditions feeding into the
moral philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries, based upon
their respective definitions of "obligation."
here to learn more about this book
for British Philosophy Texts
here for Analytic Philosophy Texts
here for more Philosophy Books
You can access individual pages for British
Philosophers from the navigation bar to your left.
And, for your convenience, a more extensive list follows:
This is a list of bibliographies used for the Past Masters
Database, and even though the data base costs money to access, the bibliographies used can
Founded in 1913, the Society aims to bring together professional
philosophers and non-professionals, to bring philosophical ideas and problems to the public attention, and to
encourage wider discussion of both traditional and topical philosophical issues.
The Society publishes its own journal, "The Philosopher", sets up local groups for lectures and discussions, and awards
diplomas to those who complete an approved course of study.
Membership is open to all.
The Society Includes:
|The Glass House
Philosopher -- Online philosophical notebook maintained by Geoffrey
Klempner, Director of Studies of the
Philosophical Society of England, discussing topics raised by correspondence students on the
Pathways to Philosophy programs, and visitors to the Pathways 'Ask a Philosopher' page.|
Philosophy -- A distance learning course based at the Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, run in
association with the Philosophical Society of England. The site includes extracts from the six
Pathways programs, a study guide, introductory book list, examples of students' work, and
selections from an archive of correspondence with Pathways students. Visitors can submit problems
on the 'Ask a Philosopher' page. |
Pathways to Philosophy received Erratic Impact's Virtual
Classroom Award in July, 2001.
"British Empiricism" refers to the 18th
century philosophical movement in Great Britain which maintained that all knowledge comes
from experience. Continental
Rationalists maintained that knowledge comes from foundational concepts known
intuitively through reason, such as innate ideas. Other concepts are then deductively
drawn from these. British Empiricists staunchly rejected the theory of innate ideas and
argued that knowledge is based on both sense experience and internal mental experiences,
such as emotions and self-reflection. 18th century British Empiricists took their cue from
Francis Bacon who, in the very
first aphorism of his New Organon, hails the primacy of experience, particularly the
observation of nature:
Humans, who are the servants and interpreters of nature, can act and understand no
further than they have observed in either the operation or the contemplation of the method
and order of nature.
A leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of
law and one of the 'founders' of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham was born in
in London, on 15 February 1748. He was the son and grandson of attorneys, and his early
family life was coloured by a mix of pious superstition (on his mother's side) and
Enlightenment rationalism (from his father). Bentham lived during a time of major social,
political and economic change. The 'industrial revolution,' with the massive economic and
social shifts that it brought in its wake, the rise of the middle class, revolutions in
France and America--all were reflected in Bentham's reflections on existing institutions.
In 1760 Bentham entered Queen's College, Oxford and, upon graduation in 1764, studied law
at Lincoln's Inn. Though qualified to practice law, he never did so. Instead, he devoted
most of his life to writing on matters of legal reform--though, curiously, he made little
effort to publish much of what he wrote.
F.H. Bradley (1846-1924) was the most famous,
original and philosophically influential of the British Idealists. These philosophers came
to prominence in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, but their effect on
British philosophy and society at large -- and, through the positions of power attained by
some of their pupils in the institutions of the British Empire, on much of the world --
persisted well into the first half of the twentieth. They stood out amongst their peers in
consciously rejecting the tradition of their earlier compatriots, such as Hume and Mill,
and responding rather to the work of Kant and Hegel.
Joseph Butler was born into a Presbyterian family
at Wantage. He attended a dissenting academy, but then converted to the Church of England
intent on an ecclesiastical career. Butler expressed distaste for Oxford's intellectual
conventions while a student at Oriel College; he preferred the newer styles of thought,
especially those of Locke, Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, leading Hume to characterize Butler
as one of those "who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing, and have
engaged the attention, and excited the curiosity of the public." . Butler benefited
from the support of Samuel Clarke and the Talbot family.
Leslie Stephen was a 19th century British
philosopher, man of letters, and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.
The portion of his writings which bear upon philosophy is small only in relation to his
total literary output. He was born in Kensington Gore on November 28, 1832.
Member of seventeenth century school of
philosophers known as the "Cambridge Platonists"; b. at Aller, in Somersetshire
(12 m. s.w. of. Wells), 1617; d. at Cambridge June 26, 1688. He entered Emmanuel College,
Cambridge, in 1632, and, after taking his M.A. degree in 1639, became fellow and tutor of
the college. In 1642 he entered the lists against the Catholic party with his first
published work, A Discourse concerning the True Nature of the Lord's Supper, which
he considers to be that of a "feast upon a sacrifice," analogous to the feasts
which followed the legal sacrifices among the Jews; not itself sacrificium, but, in
Tertullian's language, participatio sacrificii. Soon after he published The Union of
Christ and the Church; in a Shadow, in which he attempted to vindicate what he thought
Protestants had too much lost sight of, the higher meaning of marriage. Young as he was,
he had already mastered all the main sources of philosophy, medieval as well as classical,
and quotes freely from the Neoplatonists and Cabalists, as well as from such modern
Platonists as Vives and Pico della Mirandola . In 1644 he was appointed master of Clare
Hall by the Parliamentary visitors, and a year later was made regius professor of Hebrew,
a position which his knowledge of Jewish literature and antiquities made congenial to him.
It seems that he thought of leaving Cambridge in 1651, but the election to the mastership
of Christ's College in 1654 settled him there anew. In spite of his close relations with
the Commonwealth government, he was undisturbed at the Restoration, and was even presented
in 1662 to the rectory of Ashwell in Herefordshire by Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury,
and made a prebendary of Gloucester in 1678. Academic and philosophic labors occupied the
remainder of his life. Alarmed by the tendencies of the irreligious and deistic writers of
the time, especially Hobbes, he essayed to meet them by a counter-philosophy which should
go to the depth of human thought and belief. The most important part of what in his
conception was intended to constitute one great whole was The True Intellectual System
of the Universe, finished in 1671 but not published until 1678. Its full importance
was not recognized until after its author's death; Le Clerc published extracts from it in
1703, and attracted to it the attention of Continental thinkers; in 1706 an abridged
edition was published in London by Wise; and in 1733 a Latin version appeared with notes
of his own, reproduced in the London edition of 1845. In this great treatise Cudworth
combated the atheistic hypothesis.
An association devoted to the promotion and
critical discussion of the work of British philosopher Michael
Oakeshott (1901 - 1990)
English theologian; born at Peterborough (37 m.
n.e. of Northampton) July, 1743; died at Lincoln May 25, 1805. His mother was a keen,
thrifty woman of much intelligence, and his father was a minor canon at Peterborough and a
pedagogue. In 1758 Paley entered, as sizar, Christ College, Cambridge. He had been a fair
scholar at his father's school, especially interested in mathematics. After taking his
degree in 1763, he became usher at an academy in Greenwich and, in 1766, was elected
fellow of Christ College, where he became an intimate friend of John Law and lectured
successfully on metaphysics, morals, and the Greek Testament. He offered lectures on
Locke, Clark's Attributes, and Butler's Analogy; and in his lectures on
divinity took the ground maintained in his Moral Philosophy that the Thirty-nine
Articles were merely articles of peace, inasmuch as they contained about 240 distinct
propositions, many of them inconsistent with each other. He had been ordained a priest in
1767, and was appointed to the rectory of Musgrave in Cumberland, which be resigned in
1776, to take the vicarage of the two parishes, Appleby and Dalston. In 1780, he was
installed prebendary at Carlisle, and resigned Appleby on becoming archdeacon in 1782. At
the close of 1785, he became chancellor of the diocese and (1789-92) figured as an active
opponent of the slave-trade. Presented to the vicarage of Aldingham in 1792, he vacated
Dalston for Stanwix in 1793. In recognition of his apologetic writings, he was given the
prebend of St. Pancras in St. Paul's Cathedral; the subdeanery of Lincoln, in 1795; and
the rectory of Bishop Warmouth in 1795; and transferred his residence to Lincoln shortly
before his death.
James Hutchison Stirling was a 19th century
British Idealist philosopher. In 1865 Stirling's The Secret of Hegel appeared and
marked the inauguration of a new era in the development of English idealism. In an article
in the Fortnightly Review for October 1867 (republished in the volume Jerrold,
Tennyson, and Macaulay) the author passes a ruthless condemnation upon the spurious
reputation for a knowledge of German idealism which had attached itself to the name of
Coleridge, as well as, in a minor degree, to that of De Quincey, and fastens especially
upon Coleridge's 'dreamy misapprehensions' and 'strange misrepresentations' of the Kantian
This society meets at the Arts Centre, Old Town, Swindon on
Fridays at 7.30pm to 9.40pm (September to June). Visitors are most welcome: just turn up on the night. There is a small charge,
usually £1. There is a different speaker each week and the programme is varied. We have talks and discussion on famous
philosophers and historical personalities, politics, science, ethics, religion, metaphysics, literature and contemporary issues. We are
happy to consider new speakers: traveling expenses paid if necessary.
Contact: Nicky Foakes
or David Foakes