F.H. Bradley and Bernard Bosanquet

William Sweet,
St Francis Xavier University,
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5 CANADA

(originally published in James Bradley (ed.), Philosophy after F.H. Bradley, Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press, 1996)

Bernard Bosanquet was born two years after F.H. Bradley and died a year earlier, in 1923. Both men came to Oxford in the late 1860s, where they fell under the influence of so-called "German philosophy," and the similarities in their views led some of their contemporaries to say that the two "may almost be regarded as a single philosophical personality."(1) But much of Bosanquet's work appeared only after Bradley had already published on the same, or related, topics,(2) and critics often speak of Bosanquet as simply "applying [Bradley's world view] and exhibiting its fruitfulness."(3) Indeed, Bosanquet suggests as much himself. As late as 1920, he wrote that "since the appearance of Ethical Studies... I have recognized [Bradley] as my master; and there is never, I think, any more than a verbal difference or difference of emphasis, between us".(4) It is no surprise, then, that the standard view of their relationship is that Bosanquet was essentially "a follower of Bradley".(5)

Yet one might well ask whether the matter is as simple as the preceding view suggests. According to Rudolf Metz, there existed a "fruitful exchange of ideas" between the two(6); Bradley himself acknowledges this.(7) Moreover, while Bradley may have had the more striking personality and the more provocative and vigorous style, according to J.H. Randall it was Bosanquet who was "the most popular and the most influential of the English idealists."(8). In fact, in his obituary in the Times, Bosanquet was described as "the central figure in British philosophy for a whole generation".(9)

The present study will attempt to address this issue by raising the question of whether Bosanquet's philosophy was "after Bradley" in any sense other than the chronological.(10) To this end, I propose to examine two areas in which Bradley and Bosanquet are generally believed to have held similar views: ethics and metaphysics. Beginning with ethics, I will argue that several of the frequently cited similarities are only so prima facie. Turning to metaphysics, one will again find some important differences in emphasis, if not in doctrine, in their respective accounts. I shall argue that, in both of these areas, the differences between Bradley and Bosanquet are neither incidental nor accidental, and that they reflect a fundamental divergence concerning the nature and value of the human person. One must, I conclude, reject the standard view.


While the appearance of Bradley's Ethical Studies met with mixed reviews, its influence in late 19th century Anglo-Saxon philosophy was significant. In one of his last essays, Bosanquet writes that "[f]or many of us [its] publication... was an epoch-making event".(11) Indeed, in a recent volume, Peter Nicholson claims that Bradley's book "served as a manifesto of British Idealism and became part of its foundations" and that, in particular, "Bosanquet expounded Bradley's moral theory enthusiastically" and "drew heavily on it."(12)

That there is some similarity between Bradley and Bosanquet is, of course, not surprising.(13) Both reject utilitarianism and both adopt the Hegelian critique of Kantian ethics as being too formal and incomplete. Both claim, moreover, that the individualist model of the human person which underlies these views is fundamentally inadequate and ignores the essential social dimension in human personality. Both hold that "[m]orality is coextensive with self-realization" (ES 224)(14) and see the community as being more than a mere collection of individuals. There is even some evidence that, in the mid 1870s, Bosanquet himself considered preparing a study of moral philosophy--a project which he abandoned at the time of the publication of Ethical Studies.(15) Yet despite all this, it by no means follows that Bosanquet's later writings in ethics and his work in social and political philosophy are essentially those of a popularizer of Bradley's ideas.(16)

To begin with, Bosanquet's discussion of the nature of morality is neither specifically Bradleian nor restricts itself to merely applying themes found in Bradley's thought. The notion of self-realisation, for example, has its roots in Aristotle(17)--it is found, as well, in the lectures of T.H. Green--and it is to Aristotle that Bosanquet refers in his lengthiest discussion of what is required for the perfection of the individual.(18) Again, Bosanquet's description of moral activity and development is indebted mainly to Green and Rousseau.(19) Here, Bosanquet employs what he calls the general or real will(20)--a notion which he derives from Rousseau and supplements with recent work in psychology; one does not, however, find in Bosanquet's discussion any trace of Bradley's account of the "ideal self." At the very least, then, it is not any distinctively Bradleian view that Bosanquet is proposing.

More to the point, there are striking differences between their respective accounts of the moral life. This, perhaps, is unexpected since, if one thing is obvious to any reader of Bosanquet, it is his frequent appeal to the notion of "my station and its duties".(21) Indeed, even though Green refers to one having "to fulfil the duties of his station"(22), Bosanquet's use of Bradley's very expression would seem to be clear evidence of the latter's influence. But it is precisely at this point--or so I shall argue--that the two differ markedly.

As most commentators recognize,(23) while Essay V of Ethical Studies, "My Station and its Duties", contains several criticisms of dominant moral theories, it is decidedly not Bradley's final view (see ES 190-191).(24) Nicholson points out that one's station "just prescribes social duties"(25) and Bradley himself argues that, not only is the morality of "my station" limited in several ways (ES 202-206), but "the self-realization of the whole body... [and] of each member" (ES 162-163) includes duties which require us, at times, to go beyond our station. For example, Bradley speaks of the "production of truth and beauty... as a duty" (ES 205) that does not "directly involve relation to others" (ES 205; see also ES 222ff.). He moves, then, to an "ideal morality [that] stands on the basis of" this "common social morality" (ES 227). Bradley suggests, in fact, that it may be my duty, as a scientist or as an artist, not to fulfill my social service if it leads to "the detriment of my own moral being" (ES 225).(26)

On the whole, however, Bosanquet is satisfied with the morality of "my station"; he says that "the main root of individual morals is in social function--my station and its duties" (SS 31). Still, he takes care to expand and more clearly define certain of its aspects and, in so doing, addresses some of the problems raised by Bradley.

First, take the idea of "station". Bradley never explicitly defines this term, nor does he seem decided about in what entity or in what institution one's "station" resides. He speaks of stations being part of a "visible community" (ES 204), but it remains unclear whether this "community" is the nation state or some other social unit (see ES 163, n. 1; 173-174; 198; 184-185).(27) Indeed, Bradley gives no explanation at all of why a theory of social duty requires the notion of "station".

On this issue, if not more persuasive, Bosanquet is at least less vague. Bradley suggests that, in the morality of "my station", there is one social order where each individual has one specific place. Bosanquet, however, is aware of the multiplicity of activities and positions a person may have. What Bosanquet means by "my station", then, is not just one's occupation or vocation, but the set of positions or functions one has in a social order, recognized in social institutions and in law by the state. For example, an adult citizen in a democratic state has the particular "position" of being a citizen, but this is obviously not the only position she may have--she might be a parent, a spouse, a teacher, a neighbour, and so on. And these "positions" are not purely arbitrary, for they reflect how that person is recognized within the broader social consciousness (PTS 196-197).

Second, consider the question of the nature and origin of one's duties. For Bradley, my duty is 'my will either thought of, or actually, realising the universal' (ES 208). Correlative to one's duties are one's rights. Thus, Bradley says that not only is it "false that you can have rights without duties"; it is also "false that you can have duties without rights" (ES 213; see ES 208). He adds, moreover, that just as there are two kinds of duties, so there are two kinds of 'rights': real and ideal. "The first are the will of the state or society, the second the will of the ideal-social or non-social ideal" (ES 208)--i.e., rights held apart from one's "station" (see ES 219ff.).

There are, however, several difficulties with this account of one's duties. Some of these are noted by Bradley when he explains why he believes the morality of "my station" to be inadequate, but there are others as well. For example, Bradley is vague about the role of the state in the existence of rights and is also unclear about its relation to moral principle.(28) If, as Bosanquet holds, Green failed to recognize the full value of the state (PTS ix), one might ask whether Bradley did any better. Furthermore, although Bradley refers to rights as corresponding to the individual's station, there is no clear sense of how precisely a person acquires these rights. Similar questions can be raised concerning what Bradley calls "ideal rights". From where, exactly, do these rights come, who or what can enforce them, and how can they be binding? It seems plausible to claim that rights and correlative obligations are integral to certain stations. But, independent of social life, how can there be ideal duties and how could these imply, in turn, corresponding general rights?

Bosanquet's version of the morality of "my station" attempts to avoid these problems. To begin with, he draws a distinction--which Bradley does not--between "duty" and "obligation".(29) Thus, on the one hand, the idea of "obligation" is tied to those of "position" and of "right". Specifically, it is in virtue of having a position that a person is said to have certain powers or rights. If this power is to be effective, however, other individuals may be required, by law, not to interfere with the exercise of these rights. Alternatively, having a position may require the holder of that position to act in a specific way. Or again, that person may be required to respect the rights--or, better perhaps, "the functions and positions"--of others (PTS 194). In each of these cases, in so far as this requirement is "enforceable by law" (PTS 194), it is an obligation. Still, neither rights nor obligations are fundamental. "Both," Bosanquet writes, "are the varied external conditions of 'positions' as regarded from different points of view" (PTS 195).

Duties, on the other hand, refer to something else. By "duty", Bosanquet means "the purpose with a view to which the right is secured" (PTS 195). Duty, then, is the moral basis of right, and it is from this that rights and obligations derive their imperative authority. And what does Bosanquet say is one's duty? Self-realisation: to make "the best of human capacities" (PTS 195).

Given this distinction, along with a more sophisticated account of the state, Bosanquet is able to provide a defence of the morality of "my station". First, Bosanquet supplies a means by which one can determine one's duty. Bradley's alternative--"ideal morality"--allows that a person's duty may be "to act up to what his light tells him is best" (ES 237, see 247). But Bosanquet would presumably respond here that if one fails to distinguish between duty and obligation, and if the discernment of one's duty is left to that individual, there would be nothing to prevent that person's private inclination from masquerading as duty.(30) Consequently, Bosanquet insists that it is in our social life and institutions that we come to know what our duty is. Yet this is not to say that morality is reduced to conformity to the status quo. Indeed, one of the 'duties' to which Bosanquet explicitly refers is the "duty of rebellion" (PTS 199).

Again, differentiating between duty and obligation is important for a correct understanding of the nature of rights. Rights are on a par with obligations and, just as obligations are "demands enforced by law" (PTS 194), rights are "claims which both are and ought to be enforceable by law" (PTS 195). There can, therefore, be no "ideal rights", nor can there be any rights that are not specifically related to a position held by a person. Thus, even if there are non-social duties (e.g., of rebellion), Bosanquet would still deny that there could be any corresponding non-social or ideal rights.

Admittedly, the view that one's duty is self-realisation--"the realization of values accepted as supreme for the self" (SS 148, see SS 40, 159, 179)--is somewhat vague. Still, what Bosanquet says individuals are called on to do is much more specific. In order to "respond adequately to the situation" (SS 146), they must do nothing less than fulfill the particular obligations of their stations. Of course, this does not mean that they must not do more. But Bosanquet points out that moral failure usually occurs because individuals do not meet the demands of their stations, not because they do "only" that much. And lest Bosanquet be accused of proposing too easy a standard, it should be pointed out that even self-sacrifice may be required by one's station.(31)

Yet not only is Bosanquet's account of the morality of "my station" more complete than the version discussed and rejected by Bradley; it appears to respond to many of the objections that Bradley brought against it. One of these criticisms is that the morality of "my station" reinforces the status quo and makes moral progress impossible (ES 204-205). But what does one do, for example, if one's "social duties" are inconsistent with the moral end? What if, as Bradley notes, "the community in which he is a member may be in a confused or rotten condition" (ES 203)? Both situations are clearly possible since, as Bosanquet himself recognizes, no society or state is "completely consistent" with what it should be (PTS 198).

Bosanquet would reply that, in each case, the question supposes that social life is essentially static, whereas the increase in knowledge and the intellectual and rational development of human persons in fact points to a different conclusion. As human beings grow and develop, society changes, so that there is a gradual working out of inconsistencies (PTS 198). And, as each inconsistency is amended, "the path is opened to progress by the emergence of another" (PTS 198). The morality of "my station" is essentially dynamic, and Bosanquet suggests that what tensions exist between it and the moral end can largely be addressed and resolved within social life.

Bosanquet believes, then, that while we discover our duty within social life, what society ultimately expects of us is not to preserve existing social arrangements, but for us to become what we have it in ourselves to be. He rejects, as well, any attitude of "complacency" in moral philosophy: "It is uncritical and false so far as it accepts any status quo, and especially the ease and comfort of any limited section of living beings" (SS 175). Bosanquet does not deny, of course, that there could be a conflict between one's duty and one's social obligations. Nevertheless, determining what one's duty is and whether it conflicts with one's obligations depends on social, and not the isolated individual's, consciousness.

One final dissimilarity between Bradley's and Bosanquet's accounts of morality should be noted. While the theory of "my station" might suggest that one's obligations are determined solely by the society in which one lives, unlike Bradley, Bosanquet is open in principle to the possibility that "humanity" could serve as the fundamental moral community (PTS 305-310).(32) To be sure, Bosanquet admits that there is yet no basis in common experience for such a community to exist but, in his later work, he allows that institutions like the League of Nations might be seen as reflections of such an "ethical idea". A more broadly based community could, he argues, oblige one to abandon or go beyond the obligations of one's station in a particular society or state.(33) But in saying this, Bosanquet is not (pace Milne)(34) abandoning the morality of "my station" altogether. He is simply locating the person within a greater whole.

If one grants, then, that Bosanquet's account of the moral life is significantly different from that of Bradley, one may still ask how it is that they came to hold such distinct views. Interestingly, one explanation--perhaps unexpected, given Bosanquet's reputation as a philosopher of the Absolute--concerns the nature and value of the human person, i.e., the "finite self". That the difference between his and Bradley's ethical thought should involve the notion of "self" is not, however, entirely surprising. After all, the "self" is clearly central to any ethics that is defined as "self-realisation" or "self-transcendence".

This attention to the human person is evident throughout Bosanquet's work in ethics and politics. The description of morality that he gives, as shown above, emphasizes the moral end as not just the realisation of certain values, but one of individual development. Thus, although Bosanquet speaks of self-realisation as "the realisation of all human capacity, without waste or failure" (PTS 141), he understands it also to mean the development of talents or capabilities in the individual human person, so that that person can become "fully what it is able to be" and what it really wants to be (PTS 131). In fact, even the former, more general sense of "self-realisation" includes the realisation of individuals.

Bosanquet refers to this moral "end" of both the individual and of the community as "the rational life" (PTS 189), and this life not only reflects, but is based on, the rational character of the human individual. As H.J. Paton says of Kant's "kingdom of ends", it "is the framework within which the private ends of ourselves and others ought to be realised".(35) Such an end can be reached, however, only if human beings participate actively in their own realisation; if this were not so, there would be no reason for Bosanquet to insist on the importance of moral decision making. It is precisely through moral activity that human personality is able to develop and, hence, the moral end realised. Of course, one might object that this need not entail that specific individuals have a particular value. All it asserts is that the moral end would be unattainable without human effort. But then, such an obligation ignores that what makes this moral end imperative is that it is the realisation of the particular individual.

Concern for the human individual can also be seen when Bosanquet underlines the centrality of the individual will for the existence of morality. Its significance is due to more than the fact that "the moral system" needs "to particularize itself in a given station and function, i.e., in my actions and by my will" (ES 180). According to Bosanquet, the moral character or worth of an action is based on the motive--on it being the uncoerced product of an individual's will (PTS 156)--not simply on its conduciveness to the moral end.(36) Or again, consider Bosanquet's view of moral development as a process by which persons attempt to live up to, and realise in their lives, what is demanded by the general will. One might infer from this that what counts is just the general will, and that one must entirely "renounce" the individual will (see ES 325). But the general will, Bosanquet holds, is not something merely external to a person. It is an extension of the rational character of the individual self; it is our particular will "corrected and amended by what we want at all other moments," and more (PTS 111). Thus, Bosanquet calls the general will the individual's "real will," and it is in obeying this "real will" that, he claims, we are obeying only ourselves (PTS 134).

Despite what one might initially believe, it is important to realize that there is no contradiction between the morality of "my station" and the individual's self-realisation. Unlike Bradley, where the "end" of ethics ultimately requires transcending not only "the private self" (ES 182), but the moral life (ES 314 - 344), Bosanquet maintains that the "end" of "my station" is my realisation. By holding to this, he believes that he opts for a morality not only in which the individual human person has the greatest chance for success in moral action, but which best contributes to a person's intellectual, material and social development. In short, on Bosanquet's reading of the morality of "my station", the individual is expanded, not abandoned.

To sum up: like Bradley, Bosanquet identifies self-realisation as the moral end, but he puts particular emphasis on the fact that the self which must be realised is the finite self. In fact, Bosanquet says that "[t]he aim of politics is to find and realize the individual" (PTS lvi)--and it is clear from the context that he is referring here to the individual human person. What each person's will demands and what the nature of the "self" requires, however, is a process of "harmonizing and readjusting" to bring this self "into rational shape" (PTS 111). On Bosanquet's view, then, self-realisation involves movement towards coherence and consistency in just the same way as the society in which selves live is itself moving towards coherence and consistency. This, in turn, involves individuals doing their duty. Consequently, Bosanquet argues that we find what our duty requires only in social life and that we move towards self-realisation only by fulfilling the demands of the various stations that we may have. "My station and its duties" and individual self-realisation are not opposed.


Like Bradley, Bosanquet rejected the view that the "isolated" individual constituted the principle of value. Indeed, much of what Bosanquet has to say in his metaphysics about the nature and the value of the "finite self" seems more consistent with Bradley's work than with his own ethics and social philosophy.(37) Nevertheless, there is some reason to believe that the difference between Bradley and Bosanquet concerning the moral life is also reflected in their respective metaphysics, particularly as it concerns the nature of the self and its relation to the Absolute.

Consider, to begin with, the concept of the "self": an ethic of self-realisation or self-transcendence obviously depends on understanding what it is that is to be realised or transcended. The individual self is clearly an important concern of Bosanquet's philosophy,(38) and "individuality" in all its senses(39) was the theme of his Gifford Lectures. It is no surprise, then, that the notions of "individual" and "self" are fundamental, not only for his conceptions of morality and politics, but for his psychology, metaphysics and even his logic.(40)

Admittedly, at first inspection, the accounts given by Bosanquet and Bradley do seem much the same. Like Bradley,(41) Bosanquet rejects a "false particularisation" of the human self which emphasizes it in its "aspect of isolation" and "independently of [its] relation to the end" and to other human beings (PTS 189). Nor will Bosanquet accept a view where the individual is seen as an "atom"--a being distinct from every other being--which "has so little in him that you cannot imagine it possible to break him into lesser parts" (PTS 74). He criticizes this conception of the "apparently separate human being wie er geht und steht" (PIV 269; see VDI 11), and argues against both the personalist (e.g., Pringle-Pattison) and the empiricist (e.g., J.S. Mill) views of the "distinction between finite selves or persons" (VDI 46-62). Thus, Bosanquet denies that human individuals could be "necessarily eternal or everlasting units" (LFI 87) or "differentiations of the absolute" (LFI 86; see PTS 166).

At times, even the language that Bosanquet employs to describe the nature and value of the finite self seems to be inspired by Bradley. He says that "the finite world is one with the world of appearance" (VDI 15, see n. 1) and that "the self as we know him in Space and Time... is a figure deformed and diminished" (PIV 383) and "essentially... imperfect and inconsistent with itself" (PIV 249). Moreover, in his contribution to a symposium entitled "Do finite individuals possess a substantive or an adjectival mode of being?"(42), Bosanquet writes that "[f]or what appears as a passage in time, the Absolute has need to express itself through us as very subordinate units...; when its life demands our existence no longer, we yet blend with it as the pervading features or characters, which we were needed for a passing moment to emphasise..." (LFI 102).(43) Altogether, these comments seem to point to the human individual as having merely an "adjectival" mode of being and value.

But it is intriguing that, in the passage just cited, Bosanquet refers to Chapter 4 of Some Suggestions in Ethics. His point in this chapter is to remind the reader of the value of the contribution of the "anonymous individual" to the social good, and he repeats this view throughout his work--that individuals characterise the world "as permanent qualifications" (LFI 101). Of course, Bradley would agree that such "appearances" are "indispensable" (AR 404; 431) for the manifestation of the Absolute. But this is of little comfort to those who wish to retain a special status for the human individual since, for Bradley, all degrees of reality--both the self and the non-self--"are all alike essential and necessary to the Absolute" (AR 404). In fact, whatever the place of humanity is, it does not seem particularly important to him; Bradley says, "[w]here humanity stands in the scale of being we do not know" (ETR 244). But Bosanquet would never ask, as Bradley does, of "[t]he ideas and wishes of 'fellows such as I crawling between heaven and earth', how much do they count in the march or the drift of the Universe?"(ETR 243).(44)

Witness, for example, how each attempts to arrive at an adequate concept of the "self". While Bradley's approach in Appearance and Reality is to "deconstruct" the individual and to show how various conceptions of the self lead to contradictions,(45) Bosanquet focuses on building the individual up--on "transmuting or expanding the power of common finite mind" (PIV 376). He begins with the finite self and moves to its interconnectedness with other selves and with the environment. But this is not, as Bradley would hold, to confuse the self with the non-self.(46) Rather, it is simply to recognize what is required for the self's most complete expression. For his part, Bosanquet follows the Greek conception of nature as physis--dynamism and growth--and, thus, he says that man's "nature... is in the process of being communicated to him" (PIV 259). The finite self, then, has a "nisus towards absolute unity and self-completion" (VDI 4). It is only so far as it falls short of this, Bosanquet suggests, that the individual self is insufficient as an absolute principle (PIV 310). According to Bosanquet, then, the difficulty in speaking of the "reality" of finite consciousness is not (as Bradley would have it) because it is inherently contradictory, but because it is not yet realized.

Again, consider what Bosanquet says about the nature and role of the finite self. He explicitly resists what seems to be a tendency towards "Pan-psychism" in Bradley, where nature is seen on the level of consciousness (PIV 362, see PIV xxxvi). Such a view not only ignores the "complementariness of mind and nature" (PIV 363), but also excludes "finite spiritual beings" from a central role--that is, that of mediator between nature and the Absolute (PIV 361; 382 ff.). For Bosanquet, while the Absolute manifests itself throughout nature, it does so fundamentally through the self (PIV 365),(47) and its privileged manifestation is the work of the human spirit--namely, social life, art and religion.

Of course, Bosanquet often speaks of individuality, not as what is peculiar to an individual human person, but as the "content of the self" (VDI 287). Here he has in mind those "interests and affections which carry us beyond our formal and exclusive self" (VDI 288), and which are present in "the great achievements of knowledge, of social and super-social morality, of the sense of beauty, and of religion" (PIV 378; see PIV 270). This corresponds to the more general sense of "self-realisation" referred to in the previous section. In fact, on Bosanquet's view, "we care for what transcends us, more than for our self" (VDI 288), and it is this--and not the finite self--that is fundamentally valuable and most important.

But why, one might ask, is this "content of the self" so central? To say that it serves as a standard of value does not answer the question, but merely moves it back one step. To say that these characteristics are the "most coherent" of experiences says something more, but does not explain why they should matter to us. We must add, Bosanquet suggests that they are the product of the logic and the rationality inherent in the finite self--what he calls "the nisus towards a whole" (PIV xx). This kind of argument for the importance of the self is, however, neither explicit nor implied in Bradley.(48)

One further point: when Bosanquet argues that the individual is adjectival and not substantial, he still holds that individuals have "a relative independence" (LFI 80), and he takes care to insist--as Bradley does not--that, while finite human beings are "adjectival," they are not "mere adjectives" (LFI 97). Bosanquet acknowledges that "it is our nature to be a single self" (LFI 92) and that selfhood is not "a trivial or unreal thing" (PIV 289). The difficulty is simply that if "I set up to be in myself a self-centred real" (LFI 93), I tend to lose sight of "the moral and spiritual structure that lies behind the visible scene" (LFI 90). For a complete understanding of the self, then, we "must make at least as much of co-existent as of continuous identity. Otherwise, we unnaturally narrow down the basis of our self." (LFI 96)

For Bosanquet, then, the individual self has a unique and important function. Nonetheless, its nature and value cannot be determined independently of its relation to others. The "perfection of the finite self" (LFI 99) occurs through social activity - "in that distinctive act or service" (PTS 170) to the social good. Moreover, it is in this activity that a person has his specific identity. Following what he believes is Plato's view, Bosanquet says that "every separate mind [is] to be distinguished by uniqueness of function or service within the community" (VDI 49). Thus, "individuality" and personal identity depend on there being something greater than the finite self, and it is in this sense that finite individuality is "adjectival". One sees a reflexion of this, not only in Bosanquet's politics and ethics, where he discusses the essentially social character of the individual and the relation of individual good to the common good, but even in his logic, where every item of knowledge reveals itself to be part of a larger system. Indeed, this "inclusion in a completer [sic] whole of experience," Bosanquet says, "is a matter of everyday verification" (PIV 373; see PIV 27 and 374).

It is clear, then that while there are certainly some important similarities between Bosanquet's and Bradley's accounts of the nature and role of the individual self, there are also significant differences. Nevertheless, one may well ask how Bosanquet's view of the nature of finite individuality squares with his notion of the Absolute, and how this compares to the analysis given by Bradley. It is generally held that Bosanquet's "absolutism" is the most Bradleian aspect of his work.(49) According to François Houang, it was the publication of Appearance and Reality that put Bosanquet on the road to "absolutism"(50), and A.J.M. Milne claims that Bosanquet's objective in his Gifford Lectures was "to reformulate and restate the theory of the Absolute... [to] meet the criticisms which had been made against Bradley's work."(51) But these assessments overlook some important features of Bosanquet's thought.

Bradley is often taken to emphasise the gap between a self which is fundamentally contradictory and an Absolute in which all contradiction is resolved. Moreover, he does not say just what place the self has in the Absolute, and this Absolute is something which, he maintains, finite mind can never know directly. Now, as neither Bradley nor Bosanquet provides a clear statement of the nature of the Absolute,(52) and since both maintain that those characteristics which reflect the particularity of finite creatures have no permanent place within it, it is no surprise that their views have been seen to be more or less the same. Still, in spite of this apparent agreement, it is interesting that much of what Bosanquet does say about the Absolute concerns its relation to the finite individual. Indeed, understanding this connexion is central to understanding Bosanquet's account of both the self and the absolute.

Bosanquet believes that the theory of the Absolute is entirely consistent with what we take to be the nature and value of the self. He describes the self as characterized by an "impulse towards unity and coherence" (PIV 340), and the Absolute, then, is "the spiritual organism in which the finite being finds to some extent completeness and satisfaction." (VDI 208) By "the Absolute," Bosanquet does not "mean simply the social whole or the general will" (VDI 208)--though it is in some sense an extension or implication of the principles that lead to society and the general will. Instead, he means "the whole world of achievements, habits, institutions in which the apparent individual finds some clue to the reality which is the truth of himself". (VDI 208) Thus, Bosanquet describes the Absolute as "our ultimate self" (PIV 378) and says, "[i]f I possessed myself entirely, I should be the Absolute" (LFI 85).

It is just this movement to coherence and completeness that was seen to be at work in Bosanquet's analysis of the moral life. While there is no explicit reference to the Absolute in The Philosophical Theory of the State, it would seem to be just this that Bosanquet has in mind when he refers to the "end" both of man and of the state as being "the rational life" (PTS 189). He says, for example, that this life is "determined by the logic of the [individual's] will" (PTS 173; see SS 37), and that such an end "gives effect to the self as a whole, or removes its contradictions and so makes it most fully what it is able to be, or what, by the implied nature of each and all of its wants, it may be said really to want to be" (PTS 131). Recall, as well, that Bosanquet identifies this "end" also with "the best life" (PTS 188). Human beings are essentially minds (PIV 381, PTS 45), and their "end" must reflect this. But human minds are not just intelligences; they have emotions, exhibit creativity and spirituality, and more. "The best life," then, must be a life which "satisfies the fundamental logic of man's capacities" (PTS 169). Indeed, Bosanquet will also describe this "end" as "the excellence of souls" (cf. PTS xxxvii, xxxix), the complete realisation of the individual (cf. PTS xv - xvi) and "the existence and the perfection of human personality" (PTS 189). It is precisely this "realisation of our self which we instinctively demand and desire" that Bosanquet calls, in his Gifford Lectures, "the eternal reality of the Absolute" (VDI 288).

It is significant that Bosanquet's notion of the Absolute can be described as "the rational life". Like Hegel, Bosanquet holds that the "reality" of a thing is a reflexion of its rationality, and vice versa, so that it is precisely because the Absolute is rational that it is also said to be real. By "rationality" here, what Bosanquet means is simply the elimination of contradiction between, and the increasing coherence in, things. Thus, as one can see in Bosanquet's account of the general will (PTS 111; see mss above, p. 13), the "finite self" or mind becomes more complete and, therefore, increasingly rational and real, the more it brings into relation both what it knows and wills and the knowledge and will that surrounds it. In this way, the individual self approximates the Absolute, and it is for this reason that the clues to the Absolute are also to be found in the increasing complexity of the relations within and among finite beings.

This view of the Absolute draws two points to our attention. First, it reminds us that, for Bosanquet, the Absolute is the most complex set of relations among finite entities and not, as in Bradley, the absence of all relation. Second, so far as it is continuous with individual rationality, the Absolute is something that can be known. In fact, no matter how wide the gap between the Absolute and the finite individual, it is precisely in the most rational activities--and not (as Bradley would have it) in "feeling"--that we have access to it (PIV 80; 250; VDI 312). (By "the most rational activities" here, Bosanquet has in mind the "highest of our experiences", such as social morality, art, philosophy and religion.) Bosanquet concludes that whether we are aware of it or not, "we experience the Absolute better than we experience anything else" (PIV 27; see PIV 378).

Bosanquet's description of the self and the Absolute, then, differs from Bradley's in several ways. It is clear that Bosanquet spends more time on the nature of the finite self and is concerned with showing just how many of the average person's intuitions can be accommodated within a non-individualistic metaphysic. His view of the self is also more constructive and "forward-looking," focussing on relations between it and those features of the world that enable selves to acquire a more concrete and complete individuality. Furthermore, the self is not something that can be felt or known only intuitively, and we know better what the self is when we understand its relations in the world. And Bosanquet is particularly explicit about the role of the self and about its importance in the Absolute. Indeed, there is even some suggestion that the self has a special degree of reality and, therefore, a special value. Such arguments, however, are not evident in Bradley; in Appearance and Reality, the self is just one among many different candidates for the role of ultimate principle.

Given the standard view of Bosanquet's work, one may be apt to overlook this claim that the Absolute is to be identified with, and defended as, the realisation of the finite self. For Bosanquet, the Absolute is both the end and, in a sense, the product of the "logic" or "nisus" to totality present in rational mind. One consequence of this is that the distinction between the finite self and the Absolute is not an unbridgeable gap. In fact, Bosanquet holds that the Absolute is especially evident in our highest experiences and that it is expressed in everything and present all around us. Unlike Bradley, then, Bosanquet gives more attention and emphasis to the nature, value and role of the finite self and to its compatibility with the Absolute.

If one is to grant that the relation between Bradley and Bosanquet is not as close as has been generally maintained, one may still wonder how to account for the differences noted above. Admittedly, no definitive answer presents itself, but it may be, in part, that there are important dissimilarities in the empirical basis from which each began.(53) Bosanquet brought a wide range of practical experience to his philosophical work. While Bradley spent his adult life almost entirely at Merton College, Bosanquet moved back and forth between the academic world and public affairs, teaching at Oxford (1871 - 1881) and at the University of St Andrews (1903 - 1908), but also working in the 1880s and 1890s with the Charity Organization Society, the London Ethical Society and, later, the London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy. This involvement in social assistance and education not only convinced him of the importance of individual effort in the development of autonomy and character; it also confirmed his view of the social dimension of the individual person. It is in one's "service to the whole" that one is "realised", but it is also precisely in this service that the whole depends on the human individual.

Another relevant factor is that Bosanquet came rather late to Absolute theory. His Gifford Lectures--the first complete statement of his metaphysics--were given when he was already 63, and he no doubt saw the Absolute as providing an explanatory background in terms of which the data he had long acquired in his public service might now be explained. Of course, one can find traces of so-called "absolutism" throughout Bosanquet's writings, but his concern with individuality is evident from his earliest work in logic. His description of the individual as having an inherent tendency to totality, the identification of the "real" with the "rational," and the definition of "the rational" as the most comprehensive and coherent, suggests that the best account of the finite human person requires that it be understood as having a place--though a distinctive and unique place--within a larger system. Arguably, then, it was through his efforts to understand the nature of individuality, rather than an a priori attachment to absolutism, that Bosanquet came to a theory of the Absolute.


What this study has attempted to defend is the view that, even though Bosanquet and Bradley share certain insights into ethics and metaphysics, their positions diverge significantly. Specifically, I have suggested that a fundamental reason for this divergence concerns the status of the finite self. Unlike Bradley, Bosanquet was interested in not losing sight of this in his theory of ultimate reality--which was reflected in his insistence on the moral philosophy of "my station" over Bradley's "ideal morality", his frequent references to the finite self as an essential element in metaphysics, his view of the Absolute as the realisation, and not the extinction, of the finite self and, of course, in his work in social welfare and education. There is good reason to hold, then, that the humanist tendencies noted by François Houang in Bosanquet's early work continue through his "middle period" and on into his later studies in metaphysics. In fact, there seems to be some ground for saying with Charles Le Chevalier(54) that Bosanquet is, even if not much less of an absolutist, at least more of a humanist than generally thought.

How are we to understand the relation between Bradley and Bosanquet? The fact that Bosanquet often cites Bradley does not by itself constitute any conclusive proof that he "follows Bradley." Such references are generally illustrative rather than employed to prove a particular point--for example, Bosanquet makes almost as many references to Green in the Gifford Lectures as he does to Bradley. Again, Houang's view, that the development of Bosanquet's philosophy corresponds directly to the influence of Bradley,(55) ignores that much of what Bosanquet says in 1889 on the role of the individual in society is very much the same as what he said in 1923, in the 4th edition of The Philosophical Theory of the State.

This being said, it is clear that Bosanquet considered Bradley's work in metaphysics and ethics to have been momentous. But this admiration was, surely, influenced by the fact that what Bradley was doing and the way in which he did it, more or less reflected Bosanquet's own interests and approach. Thus, even though much of Bosanquet's published philosophical work came "after" similar work in Bradley, and even if he was to some degree influenced by it, it does not follow that Bosanquet merely "followed Bradley." It is worth noting that, despite the similarity in education, interest and outlook, the two men were not friends, and the existing correspondence between them exhibits a strong formality.(56) Perhaps, then, the most accurate statement of the relationship between the two is that which Bosanquet himself gave after the publication of Appearance and Reality--that Bradley was "only 'telling him his own dream'".(57) But for one to be told his own dream, it is clear that he must have already dreamt it.


1. See Rudolf Metz, Die philosophischen Strömungen der Gegenwart in Grossbritannien (Felix Meiner Verlag: Leipzig, 1935). Translated as A Hundred Years of British Philosophy (Tr. J.W. Harvey, T.E. Jessop, Henry Sturt; Ed. J.H. Muirhead), London: Allen and Unwin, 1938. p. 346. According to J.S. MacKenzie, "Bradley and Bosanquet have almost to be regarded as one person...Neither is readily intelligible without the other" (Review of Ethical Studies, 2nd edition, in Mind n.s. 37 (1928), pp. 235-236; cited in Peter P. Nicholson, The Political Philosophy of the British Idealists: Selected Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 243, n. 25). See also Anthony Manser's comment that "[i]t has been suggested that there was, at the end of the nineteenth century, a great English philosopher named 'Bradley-Bosanquet'" (Bradley's Logic, Totowa NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1983, p. 198).

Metz, nevertheless, rejects this opinion. He claims that "[d]espite the considerable agreement between them... Bosanquet's philosophy... represents an independent re-creation, extension and application of Bradley's doctrine on the part of a genuine thinker who happened to be congenial with him and who scarcely fell below him in ability" (Metz (1938), p. 346).

2. Ethical Studies was published in 1876, but it was not until 1899 that Bosanquet provided any systematic work on social philosophy (The Philosophical Theory of the State) and not until 1918 that he produced a book - in fact, a series of nine essays - on ethics (Some Suggestions in Ethics). Appearance and Reality (1893) predates Bosanquet's Gifford Lectures, The Principle of Individuality and Value and The Value and Destiny of the Individual by 20 years. Finally, even though Bosanquet's essay "Logic as the Science of Knowledge" (in A. Seth and R.B. Haldane (eds.), Essays in Philosophical Criticism, [London: Longman's, 1883], pp. 67 - 101) appeared in the same year as the first edition of Bradley's Principles of Logic, one of the primary tasks of his Knowledge and Reality (1885) and Logic or the Morphology of Knowledge (2 vols., 1888) seems to be to take up, and make more consistent, Bradley's project.

3. Metz (1938), p. 347.

4. See his letter to Lello Vivante, 27 March 1920, cited in J.H. Muirhead, Bernard Bosanquet and his Friends, (London, 1935), esp. pp. 262-263. See also Nicholson (1990), p. 52.

5. Arthur Kenyon Rogers, English and American Philosophy since 1800: A critical survey (New York: Macmillan, 1923), p. 264. According to François Houang (Le néo-hegelianisme en angleterre (Paris: Vrin, 1954)), the development of Bosanquet's philosophy corresponds directly to that of Bradley. For example, "it was the publication in 1893 of Bradley's Appearance and Reality that explains the transition in Bosanquet's work from logic to metaphysics" (op. cit, p. 8; See also his De l'humanisme à l'absolutisme (Paris: Vrin, 1954), p. 9.). See also Emile Bréhier, Histoire de la philosophie, Vol. III, (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1964) p. 917: "Le mérite de B. Bosanquet... est surtout de faire ressortir tout ce que l'expérience peut apporter de vérifications à un idéalisme tel que celui de Bradley".

For a dissenting view, see Jonathan Robinson, "Bradley and Bosanquet," Idealistic Studies X (1980), pp. 1 - 23. According to Robinson, "Bradley and Bosanquet disagreed so profoundly over such questions as the nature of reality and the relation of thought to feelings that they ought not to be looked on as representing some common doctrine" (op. cit., p. 2).

6. Metz (1938), p. 346.

7. In a letter dated November 11, 1915, Bradley wrote to Bosanquet that "there is no one whose opinion weighs with me as yours does, or whose work (amongst the living) I put higher or value more." Muirhead (1935), p. 179. See also Muirhead (1935), p. 315; Nicholson (1990), p. 52 and p. 243, nn 22, 23, and 24.

8. J.H. Randall, jr. "Idealistic Social Philosophy and Bernard Bosanquet," in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XXVI, no. 4 (June 1966), pp. 473 - 503; reprinted in The Career of Philosophy, Vol. 3, pp. 97 - 130. p. 114.

9. Muirhead (1935), p. 19.

10. The following texts are cited in the body of this essay. By Bosanquet: The Philosophical Theory of the State, 4th ed. 1923 (henceforth abbreviated as PTS), Some Suggestions in Ethics, 1918 (SS), "Do Finite Individuals Possess a Substantive or an Adjectival Mode of Being": A Symposium. In Life and Finite Individuality (ed. H. Wildon Carr), Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 1. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1918), pp. 75 - 194, (LFI). The Principle of Individuality and Value, 1912 (PIV) and The Value and Destiny of the Individual, 1913 (VDI); by Bradley, Ethical Studies (second edition) 1927, (ES), Appearance and Reality (second edition (corrected), ninth impression, 1930) (AR); Essays on Truth and Reality, 1914 (ETR); Collected Essays, 1935 (CE).

11. "Life and Philosophy,", pp. 51 - 74, in Contemporary British Philosophy: Personal Statements (first series), ed. J.H. Muirhead (London: Allen and Unwin, 1924). It is interesting to note that Bradley was invited to contribute to this volume, but refused.

12. Nicholson (1990), p. 3; pp. 51 - 52. Nicholson refers his reader to the references to Bradley in the index of VDI and makes some (vague) references to PTS, but he does not make the nature and extent of this alleged influence explicit. In fact, many of the references to Bradley in VDI concern Bradley's discussion of the nature and presuppositions of utilitarianism and of Kant - but not, interestingly, Bradley's 'positive theory' in essay VI.

13. For a discussion of issues here, see Houang, Néo-hegelianisme, pp. 18-33 and Manser (1983). While Manser notes Bradley's indebtedness to Bosanquet in logic (particularly on those issues that led to the preparation of the second edition of the Principles of Logic), he adds that "[i]n many cases, it seems that Bosanquet did not fully understand Bradley's arguments; at best he gives them a somewhat shallow interpretation" (op. cit., p. 199). It is interesting that there is no record that Bradley himself ever held such a view. Manser holds, however, that "at a deeper level perhaps neither understood the other's view fully" (Manser (1983), p. 198).

14. Interestingly, rather than constantly use the notion of 'self-realisation', Bosanquet instead often employs that of 'self-transcendence'. He finds an expression of this in a line from Goethe: "Stirb' und werde"--"Die to live" (SS 161). (See also VDI 16-18 on finiteness and self-transcendence.) A paradigmatic case of self-transcendence is that which occurs in love (VDI 327), and one should note Bosanquet's view that, in logic, inference is also a kind of 'self-transcendence' (Acton (1967), p. 349).

Admittedly, Bradley speaks of the moral end as involving transcendence and of the necessity that one "must die" to one's "private self [and]... be made one with the ideal" (ES 325). In this context, however, Bosanquet does not mean (as Bradley suggests) that morality must be transcended, but simply that genuine moral activity involves transcending one's private interests. Moreover, the 'dying to oneself' of which Bradley speaks is part of religious (and not, strictly speaking, moral) consciousness.

15. In a letter to F.H. Peters, dated August 13, 1876, Bosanquet wrote: "the book I was to write must wait; perhaps forever". (Cited in Muirhead (1935), p. 37). In Bernard Bosanquet: A Short Account of his Life (London, 1924), Helen Bosanquet wrote that "He seems to have contemplated writing a book on Ethics, which was forestalled by Bradley's Ethical Studies" (op. cit. p. 34). See also Nicholson (1990), p. 52 and n. 18, p. 243.

16. Interestingly, after Ethical Studies, Bradley was to write little more on - and, indeed, to express a distaste for - moral or social philosophy. (See Bradley's letter of 1894, cited in Nicholson (1990), pp. 52 - 53.)

17. Crossley suggests, however, that there are some important differences between the Aristotelian and Bradleian accounts of self-realisation. See David J. Crossley, "Self Realization as Perfection in Bradley's Ethical Studies" in Idealistic Studies, VII (1977), pp. 199-220, p. 201.

18. "The perfecting of the soul in Aristotle's Ethics," Lecture X, Appendix II in The Principle of Individuality and Value, London: Macmillan, 1912.

19. Contrat Social, I, 7. See Bosanquet, PTS, chapters IV and V.

20. Aside from PTS, Bosanquet's major discussion of the general will appears in the following books and articles: "Les idées politiques de Rousseau," in Revue de métaphysique et de morale, XX (1912), pp. 321-340; "The Reality of the General Will," International Journal of Ethics, IV (1893 - 1894), pp. 308 - 321 (reprinted in Aspects of the Social Problem, London: 1895 and in Science and Philosophy and Other Essays by the Late Bernard Bosanquet, Eds. J.H. Muirhead and R.C. Bosanquet, London: 1927); "The Notion of the General Will," Mind, n.s. XXIX (1920), pp. 77 - 81. For a discussion of this, see my "Bernard Bosanquet and the Development of Rousseau's Idea of the General Will," in Man and Nature = L'homme et la nature, Vol. X (Individu et collectivités = The Individual and Institutions), ed. M. Cartwright and W. Kinsley, Edmonton, AB: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1991.

21. See, for example, "The Kingdom of God on Earth" (in Essays and Addresses (1889), reprinted in Science and Philosophy (1927)), "The Social Good" (in Some Suggestions in Ethics, p. 31), and The Value and Destiny of the Individual.

22. Prolegomena to Ethics, 183. See also Prolegomena 313 and 338. It is unclear, however, whether this locution was first employed by Green or Bradley. See Ellen Jacob, Bernard Bosanquet: Social and Political Thought, unpublished PhD thesis in History, City University of New York, 1986, pp. 84-85. See also Nicholson (1990), p. 243, n. 14.

23. Nicholson suggests that this is not so. Of Essay V, My Station and its Duties", he says that "[t]his part of the book is the most frequently and the most disastrously misread" (Nicholson (1990), p. 6; see p. 23). But a reading of the major secondary material (Le Chevalier, Wollheim, etc.) shows that there is, in fact, general agreement that Essay V is not Bradley's view.

24. See, for example, James Bradley, "Process and Historical Crisis in F.H. Bradley's Ethics of Feeling," in P. MacEwan (ed.), Ethics, Metaphysics and Religion in the Thought of F.H. Bradley, (Queenston: Edwin Mellen, 1991) (forthcoming) and H.B. Acton "Bradley, Francis Herbert" in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edited by Paul Edwards (New York: The Free Press, 1967), Vol. I, pp. 359 - 363, p. 359. Interestingly, even after acknowledging that 'my station' is not a 'wholly tenable' point of view (ES 190), F.H. Bradley says "[t]here is nothing better than my station and its duties, nor anything higher or more truly beautiful." (ES 201)

25. Nicholson (1990) p. 32

26. Compare here Bradley's comment that "[y]ou cannot confine a man to his station and its duties." (ES 204)

27. For a discussion of some of these issues, see Crispin Wright, "The Moral Organism," in Manser and Stock (1984), pp. 77 - 97.

28. See also AR 469, n. 1.

29. Admittedly, Bosanquet does not always make this distinction between duties and obligations. See, for example, his account of conflicts of duty in SS 108-109.

30. Indeed, David Crossley suggests that "Bradley's own moral theory... is a form of non-hedonistic egoism." See "Bradley on the Absolute Right of the State over the Individual," in Ethique et droits fondamentaux - Ethics and Basic Rights (sous la direction de Guy Lafrance) Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1989, pp. 138-144, p. 144, n. 10.

31. Compare ES 204. Here, Bradley says that one may not "see his realization" in sacrificing himself for the community. Bosanquet's point, however, is that a complete understanding of the expression "Die to live" - that is, of the morality of 'my station' - includes just this. (See n. 14, above.)

32. Compare ES 205, n. 1; 222 n. 2; 231-232. See also SS 77. This question is discussed by Peter P. Nicholson, in "Philosophical Idealism and International Politics: A Reply to Dr. Savigear," British Journal of International Studies, 2 (1976), pp. 76 - 83. See also my "Individual Rights and British Neo-Liberalism," in Rights: Past, Present and Future, ed. Yeager Hudson (forthcoming).

33. A.J.M. Milne suggests that, in this respect, Bosanquet is following Green. See The Social Philosophy of English Idealism, London: Allen and Unwin, 1962, p. 262.

34. Milne (1962), p. 262.

35. H.J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative: A Study in Kant's Moral Philosophy, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1967., p. 187.

36. "It is ... the ground or motive which alone would give [an act] immediate value or durable certainty as an element in the best life" (PTS 176). For this reason, Bosanquet holds that the coercive activity of the state must be limited.

37. Andrew Vincent suggests the existence of a similar tension in Hegel. See his "The Individual in Hegelian Thought," Idealistic Studies, XII (1982), pp 156-168, p. 165.

38. In LFI, Bosanquet distinguishes between the self or soul and "the finite individual" (LFI 100), but such a distinction need not concern the reader here. This distinction is, in any case, quite different from that between the self and "finite centres of feeling" that one finds in Bradley (AR 464-465, n. 1; see also ETR 414-421). See Garrett L. Vander Veer, Bradley's Metaphysics and the Self, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), p. 310.

39. For a brief summary of some of the senses in which Bosanquet uses this term, see my "L'individu et les droits de la personne selon Maritain et Bosanquet," In Etudes Maritainiennes / Maritain Studies, No. 6 (juin 1990), pp. 141-166, pp. 157-158.

40. In addition to the texts noted above, see also Bosanquet's Psychology of the Moral Self (1897).

41. Recall Bradley's argument that if "the self has been narrowed to a point which does not change, that point is less than the real self" (AR 69).

42. In LFI

43. LFI 102

44. Cited in Vincent (1982), p. 160.

45. See AR 101 and Richard Wollheim's discussion of "Bradley's reductionist account of the self" in F.H. Bradley, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1959), p. 137.

46. Recall Bradley's argument that "feeling" cannot be used to discern or represent the self, because it could not distinguish adequately between the self and the environment and, thus, the extension of the term "self" would be too broad (AR 90-92).

47. Thus, Bosanquet says that "[t]he finite self, then, qua finite, is the centre or awakening of a determinate world" (PIV 190; see 382). Andrew Vincent concludes from this that "[t]he finite mind is the vehicle of the whole. The universe reaches a pitch of comprehensiveness in human consciousness." (Vincent (1982), p. 159). Similarly, François Houang argues that, for Bosanquet, human spirit in its diverse manifestations is the unique vehicle of the self-revelation of the Absolute. According to Houang, Bosanquet considers "les esprits humains comme les uniques véhicules de l'auto-révélation de l'Absolu" (Houang, Néo-hegelianisme, p. 125).

48. Arguably, this account of the finite self as mediator between nature and consciousness, and as having a particular importance, is possible because Bosanquet readily adopts the view that the more coherent or inclusive something is, the higher or more real it will be (see PIV 270). Bradley, however, does not "follow" Hegel here. See James Bradley in MacEwan (1991).

49. See the references in notes 1 and 3 above. Moreover, in his Gifford Lectures - regarded as the definitive statement of his metaphysical views - Bosanquet acknowledges a great debt to Bradley (e.g., especially in Lecture V of The Value and Destiny of the Individual).

50. See note 3 above and Houang, De l'absolutisme, p. 9.

51. Milne (1962), p. 184.

52. His most complete account occurs in PIV Lecture X, appendix 1. Here, however, Bosanquet is more interested in attacking certain theories than in saying what the Absolute is.

53. Both Bradley and Bosanquet saw their work as expressing the "plain man's" view, even if it was not what the "plain man" explicitly believed. The matter of its "empirical" dimension, however, cannot be dealt with here.

54. According to Charles Le Chevalier, "à son insu peut-être Bosanquet fut avant tout un moraliste" and his metaphysics "se nourrit d'un continu moral." Ethique et idéalisme: Le courant néo-hegelien en angleterre (Paris: Vrin, 1963), p. 14.

55. See note 3 above. [Néo-hegelianisme, p. 8]

56. See G.R.G. Mure, "Francis Herbert Bradley" in Les études philosophiques 15 (1960), p. 76 and Muirhead (1935) passim.

57. Muirhead (1935), p. 26.