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British Philosophy

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bulletTexts:  British Philosophy
bulletUsed Books:  British Philosophy 
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Do What Thou Wilt : A Life of Aleister Crowley
coverThe 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."  

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You can access individual pages for British Philosophers from the navigation bar to your left.

And, for your convenience, a more extensive list follows:

bulletFrancis Bacon
bulletJeremy Bentham
bulletGeorge Berkeley
bulletFrancis Herbert Bradley
bulletJoseph Butler
bulletRalph Cudworth
bulletThomas Hobbes
bulletDavid Hume
bulletJames Hutchison
bulletJohn Locke
bulletJohn Stuart Mill
bulletG. E. Moore
bulletMichael Oakeshott
bulletWilliam Paley
bulletBertrand Russell
bulletLeslie Stephen
bulletLudwig Wittgenstein


Past Masters Series:  British Philosophy Bibliographies

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 be helpful.

Site Includes:

bulletFrancis Bacon
bulletJeremy Bentham
bulletGeorge Berkeley
bulletAnne Conway
bulletThomas Hobbes
bulletDavid Hume
bulletJohn Locke
bulletDavid Ricardo
bulletBritish Moralists
bulletHenry Sidgwick
bulletAdam Smith


The Philosophical Society of England

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:

bulletThe 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.
bulletPathways to 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 (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


"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.


Jeremy Bentham (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


A leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law and one of the 'founders' of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham was born in Houndsditch, 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.


Francis Herbert Bradley (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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 (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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 (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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.


Ralph Cudworth (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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.


Michael Oakeshott Association

Erratic Impact's Philosophy Awards

An association devoted to the promotion and critical discussion of the work of British philosopher Michael Oakeshott (1901 - 1990)

William Paley (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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 (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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 philosophy.


Swindon Philosophical Society

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


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