h. bradley

F. H. Bradley

Francis Herbert Bradley (30 January, 184618 September, 1924) was a British idealist philosopher.


He was born at Clapham, Surrey, England (now part of the Greater London area). He was the child of Charles Bradley, an evangelical preacher, and Emma Linton, Charles's second wife. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Marlborough College, and at some point in his teens, read some of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. In 1865 he entered the University College, Oxford. In 1870, he was elected to a fellowship at Oxford's Merton College where he remained until his death in 1924. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery in Oxford.

During his life, Bradley was one of the most respected philosophers on the British Isles and was granted honorary degrees many times. He was the first British philosopher to be awarded the Order of Merit. His fellowship at Merton College did not carry any teaching assignments and thus he was free to continue to write. He was famous for his pluralistic approach to philosophy. His pluralistic outlook saw a unity transcending divisions between logic, metaphysics and ethics.

However, Bradley's philosophical reputation declined greatly after his death. British idealism was practically eliminated by G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell in the early 1900`s. Bradley was also famously criticised in Alfred Jules Ayer's logical empiricist work, Language, Truth and Logic, for making statements that do not meet the requirements of positivist verification principle, e.g. statements such as "The Absolute enters into, but is itself incapable of, evolution."


Bradley rejected the utilitarian and empiricist trends in English philosophy represented by John Locke, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill. Instead, Bradley was a leading member of the philosophical movement known as British idealism, which was strongly influenced by Immanuel Kant and the German idealists, Johann Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel, although Bradley tended to downplay his influences. Bradley's ideas are sometimes compared to those of the Indian philosopher Adi Shankara.

One characteristic of Bradley's philosophical approach is his technique of distinguishing ambiguity within language, especially within individual words. This technique might be seen as anticipatory of later advances in the philosophy of language.

Books and publications

  • Appearance and Reality, London : S. Sonnenschein ; New York : Macmillan , 1893. (1916 edition)
  • Essays on Truth and Reality, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914.
  • The Principles of Logic, London:Oxford University Press, 1922. (Volume 1)/(Volume 2)
  • Ethical Studies, 1876, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927, 1988.
  • Collected Essays, vols. 1-2, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935.
  • The Presuppositions Of Critical History, Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968.


External links

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