Spanning over a half century, the correspondence of F. H. Bradley offers a microcosm of various strains which issued in the development of the major schools of thought that have defined Western philosophy throughout much of the twentieth century. It offers as well, in some ways, a history of the journal Mind across most of those years, given the role Mind played in Bradley’s access to other philosophers, his own prominence in this journal, and his extensive correspondence with G. F. Stout, who assumed its editorship in 1892 and in whom Bradley found a fellow traveller in the realm of psychology. As retrospective studies of the genesis of the philosophic movements in this century are already engaging the attention of some, such letters are especially valued for their illumination of the doctrines of the principal architects of philosophic thought in this century, the relationship of these individuals to one another, and the manner in which they came upon and defined the issues of their age. That Bradley played a pivotal role in the dawning of twentieth-century philosophy, not only as a foil against which pragmatism and analytic philosophy emerged, but as a positive impulse to these and other movements, is now receiving acknowledgement. Though his influence reaches far beyond those with whom he corresponded, the correspondence nonetheless affords a rare glimpse into the dynamics of the interplay between Bradley and such major figures as William James and Bertrand Russell and, thereby, sheds light both on Bradley’s place in the history of twentieth-century philosophy and upon the problems with which philosophers of quite different persuasions wrestled, problems which may be recast somewhat now as the century closes, but which continue to capture attention within the philosophic community today. The correspondence also offers an opportunity to discover Bradley the man as well as his perspective on the development of his philosophy in his own words. It is these latter themes that will be the focus of this Introduction, leaving to readers their own discovery of the issues which emerge in the letters of Bradley and his contemporaries.
In his Aphorisms, Bradley wrote: ‘It is good to know what a man is, and also what the world takes him for. But you do not understand him until you have learnt how he understands himself.’1 Through his letters, we are offered an insight into the character of this man, his relationships with others, at least in some measure, and his own view of his work and his role in the philosophic era in which he lived. Though the portrait which emerges is not at odds with various biographical accounts that have been given of Bradley, it is a portrait which, in moving beyond the anecdotal, however rich that may be, affords a somewhat fuller view of this man than the mere anecdotal can provide.2 We still find a Bradley who is reclusive and yet sociable, who has a biting tongue and wit and yet a generosity of spirit and self-deprecating humour, who shows a deep loyalty to Merton College and yet a healthy scepticism about the manner in which academe conducts its business, who writes with confidence and yet struggles with scepticism, and who, while noted as a polemical author, seeks to avoid controversy.
The reclusive character of Bradley’s life, as we have remarked in passing elsewhere, derives not from temperament or choice, but from the constraints of his chronic kidney condition, which resulted from a serious kidney inflammation he suffered in 1871, shortly after becoming a Fellow of Merton. Though it is well known that he suffered from this condition, the extent to which it sapped his energy and the increasing frequency with which he experienced bouts of inflammation across the years is somewhat surprising. After an attack, he would feel weak or ‘stupid’, as he often said, for weeks or months at a time, not able to work on philosophic matters but only to engage in light reading. Because fatigue and stress only aggravated this condition, he was forced, as he wrote to James, ‘to live very privately’. How privately is conveyed in a letter to Stout wherein Bradley remarks that he seldom leaves his Oxford rooms after 10 a.m.3 The picture drawn about his battle with pyelitis and fatigue is a stark one, revealing not only how his medical condition impeded him from living anything remotely resembling a normal social life, but how it also intruded upon his philosophic work.
The letters suggest, moreover, that Bradley was beset by another problem which appears to have been both visual and auditory. To his friend Samuel Alexander he writes of having ‘an infirmity in respect of reading MS’, which has been ‘one of the minor plagues of my life’, ‘an almost complete incapacity to read words by their general appearance’.4 And to his brother A. C. Bradley, he remarks ‘that to decipher a M.S. & understand it at the same time is with me a great strain’.5 Bradley is describing a form of aphasia known as visual agnosia, wherein a given word must be deciphered, i.e. taken apart virtually letter by letter, and then reconstructed, in order to be grasped. Though there is no sign of his having any writing problem, as there would be, for example, with individuals who are dyslexic, there are suggestions that this disability was auditory as well, a not uncommon occurrence. It is true, as some biographical accounts have mentioned, that Bradley never attended philosophic meetings because of ‘foul air &c.’; indeed, he never attended any meetings that he could reasonably avoid. But he also observes on more than one occasion to Stout that he has an inability to understand papers which are being read, that his ‘inability to understanding anything on an oral statement’ is ‘excessive’.6 These remarks to Stout are made in the early 1900s before Bradley’s problem with deafness becomes profound and hence suggest that auditory agnosia did accompany his visual agnosia.
But health and matters of disability aside, Bradley once observed to Russell, in sympathizing with Russell’s desire to enter politics as a temporary change from the philosophic life, that the study of philosophy, as well as study in many other fields, ‘is inhuman and trying’ because it requires working alone. Noting that his health has impeded his taking a respite from philosophy by pursuing some other occupation, he writes of having ‘been driven to take a great deal of holidays instead’, and adds: ‘Another occupation might have been better.’7
There has been speculation about what occupation Bradley might have otherwise pursued. That he might very well have been an astute businessman is evidenced in the Bradley Papers by the closeness with which he scrutinized all matters regarding the account of Appearance and Reality, as well as by the few skirmishes he had with publishing firms. That others trusted his judgment in financial matters is also indicated, for example, by his having been the executor of William Wallace’s estate and subsequently of the estate of Mrs Wallace. Then, too, his letters in the publishing skirmishes suggest that he would have been a fine lawyer. To show Bradley’s interaction with the world beyond academe, a selection of these letters is included in this edition.8 The tenacious, incisive, morally indignant Bradley is the Bradley that we generally meet in this selection, a man concerned not only with making legal claims, but with putting forth moral claims as well. The moral issues he raises are ones which could be found in a contemporary business ethics course. Aside from targeting the ‘pirating’ of texts which has its contemporary analogue in questions about ‘pirating’ videos, he zeroes in upon the issue of false advertising and the question of whether firms which have been reconstituted can justifiably claim no moral identity with their past. In a petition to Green that he and others had signed in 1872, a concern was expressed about making philosophy vital to practical life.9 In his business dealings, he showed how that could be done.
Though relatively few letters of a familial nature have survived, those that have show that Bradley, his brother A. C. and their sister Marian de Glehn were devoted to one another, sharing intellectual interests, a love of poetry and a disdain for the religion within which they were raised, though in this last, perhaps, A. C. somewhat less than his siblings.10 The brothers kept up with one another’s work, assisting each other as the occasion arose, whether it was A. C. seeking advice in matters of poetry or Bradley requesting comment on a paper he had written at the request of the novelist Elinor Glyn, or, again, turning to A. C. for advice regarding how to deal with F. C. S. Schiller. Bradley would usually include Marian in the seeking of advice about such matters, asking A. C. to show her whatever paper was under consideration, since A. C., like Marian and her husband, lived in London. Moreover, Bradley would write Marian once or twice a week. When in the early 1920s A. C. Bradley began to show signs of dementia, Bradley and his sister sought to ensure that this not be made public; this is hinted at in Bradley’s expression of concern in December 1921 to Marian about an upcoming meeting that A. C. was going to have with the Canadian humorist and Professor of Political Economy Stephen Leacock. In his will dated 25 May 1921, Bradley had named both A. C. and Marian as his literary executors, knowing that this task would in all likelihood fall squarely on the shoulders of Marian. She served her brothers well, for she published the second edition of Ethical Studies, Aphorisms, and Collected Essays after Bradley’s death as well as A. C. Bradley’s Miscellany (1929) and Ideals of Religion (1940). H. H. Joachim assisted her in these efforts, bringing the last to conclusion after her death in 1939, but it is clear from their correspondence that she took the lead in furthering her brothers’ work, writing prefaces and editorial notes as required. Another sister, Emma Bradley Bull, whose daughter Hester Bull succeeded Marian as literary executor of the Bradley brothers, is among Bradley’s correspondents and certainly was close to these siblings, knowing well, for example, Bradley’s good friend the mathematician from Trinity College, Cambridge, G. H. Hardy. But information here is scant. Other glimpses we gain of Bradley’s relationship with his family show a son indifferent to the question of whether his father’s letters should be retained but on general grounds of the usefulness of old letters, a son and brother regretting the influence of the Evangelical sect of his youth upon certain members of the family, a solicitous uncle concerned about the medical condition of a niece, and an uncle much interested in keeping in touch with such members of his family as Margaret Bradley Woods, poet and novelist, whose father was Bradley’s half-brother George Granville Bradley. It had been with Granville’s family that Bradley had first lived while a student at Marlborough College, where Granville, later Warden of University College and Dean of Westminister Abbey, was then headmaster.
In November 1880, Bradley began a journey with Margaret Bradley Woods, her husband Henry Woods, later President of Trinity College, Oxford, and J. H. Middleton, later Director of the South Kensington Museum, sailing from Liverpool to Alexandria on a tramp steamer, the Magdala. They arrived 2 December 1880 and returned to England in May 1881. It was during this trip that he met the woman with whom he would correspond almost daily to his death, the elusive ‘E. R.’, to whom he dedicated Appearance and Reality, Essays on Truth and Reality, and the second edition of The Principles of Logic. Though ‘E. R.’ burned all of her letters from Bradley in accordance with his instructions, there are occasional elliptical remarks about ‘E. R.’ in Bradley’s letters to his family, and in one letter, in speaking of the ‘Radcliffs’, he refers to her as ‘Miss R’, thereby resolving the question raised in earlier memoirs of Bradley as to whether this woman was married or single. When they first met, she was about seventeen years old, travelling with her father, an American engineer; the family’s residence was in Boulogne. In the summer of 1887, it appears that Bradley was considering marrying her, given the nature of many of the aphorisms in MS BK T (2.2). But, for whatever reasons, whether because of his health, his passion for philosophy, or her reticence, he did not. The only further light that the Bradley Papers shed on this relationship is the relevation that ‘E.’ stands for ‘Eve’. In a small memorandum tablet Bradley noted that ‘Eve’ would be at the Lausanne Palace from 1 February to 15 February 1922. Beneath this entry he lists ‘Allenbury Glycerine & Black Currant Pastilles’. About a year later in this same tablet, he has another list that includes Eve, Père and Pastilles. One can assume Eve, and perhaps her father, liked pastilles. Of the other woman in his life, Elinor Glyn, whom he met at St Raphael in the winter of 1911–12, we learn that Bradley asked her to publish ‘On Sexual Detail in Literature’ under her name, a request she declined. Her secretary also wrote to Bradley, informing him of her address at the Ritz Hotel in New York. Whether letters were exchanged between Mrs Glyn and Bradley has not been determined. They both shared a love of aphoristic writing. He, moreover, was her prototype for the professor in Halcyone, and helped her with some Greek texts for inclusion in this novel. His reading lists show that he had already read a few of her works before their chance meeting.
Aside from his routine holidays in France, there is evidence of his travelling, for example, to Belgium in 1874, the Italian Lakes in 1885, to Switzerland in 1887 and 1922, and to the Canary Islands in 1906. In such trips, Bradley usually spent time with a group of friends, though little is known about this group. Samuel Alexander travelled with him to Switzerland in 1887. Albert Whitin, an American friend, he appears to have visited in France. That Whitin had a reversionary bequest to Marian de Glehn and A. C. Bradley, suggests his closeness to the family. As mentioned above, G. H. Hardy, too, was also a close friend. Marian turned to him to provide factual information about her brother’s life, and he provided her with some dates of travels, noting that he had drawn them from his diaries.
Though Bradley in later years spent little time in residence at Merton College, preferring for reasons of health to live near the sea in southern England and at Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight, he nonetheless took a keen interest in the College. Several letters show his astuteness in the politics of university life and a deep concern about university-wide issues that might adversely affect Merton. A Dean of Students in his younger days in the late 1870s, he was a conscientious member of the Governing Board of the College into his final years and a strong voice of moral leadership, as suggested, in part, by his private printing of ‘On the War Memorial’ (3.10), an item that seeks to redirect the course of the Governing Board to an appropriate conclusion.
Much has been said about Bradley’s attitude toward undergraduates and his seeming reluctance to have anything to do with them. There may well be truth to this story and, as is often retailed, he did refuse to meet with T. S. Eliot in 1914. Yet there are a number of examples of his kindness to younger philosophers as well as to his own contemporaries. A. E. Taylor, who was at Merton from 1891 to 1896, and Brand Blanshard, who visited Bradley in the early 1920s, have both suggested that Bradley was most helpful to them. Bradley’s letters, moreover, show his concern about Taylor securing a good teaching position and his eagerness to advance Taylor’s name for fellowships whenever he could. Alan K. Stout, the late Australian philosopher and son of G. F. Stout, also related that one morning when he was an undergraduate at Oriel College, there was a knock on his door. Upon opening it, he was astounded to see Bradley standing there. When Bradley asked the young Stout if he would like to join him in a walk, he, of course, agreed. During what Stout recalls as a brisk morning walk, Bradley asked him about his work. Stout was so overwhelmed by this experience, however, that he remembered virtually nothing about what was said beyond this.11
There are several examples, too, of Bradley’s generosity toward various philosophers. He read proofs for William L. Courtney’s Constructive Ethics (1886) and worked closely with Samuel Alexander on the essay for which Alexander won the Green Moral Philosophy Prize at Oxford in 1887, the essay which served as the basis of his Moral Order and Progress (1887). He also read proofs for Henry Jones’s A Critical Account of the Life of Lotze (1895). When a well-established figure in British philosophy, he reached out as well to younger philosophers, encouraging them in their work. For example, upon reading Russell’s A Critical Exposition on the Philosophy of Leibniz (1900), Bradley initiated correspondence with him. He much respected Russell’s philosophical acuity across the years and as late as 1923 would recommend that a selection from Russell be included in the second edition of Benjamin Rand’s Modern Classical Philosophers (1924), though his recommendation was unsuccessful.12 He would also counsel Russell when asked, for example, about the etiquette of testimonials or about Russell’s intended entry into politics in 1914. He had a similar relationship with R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, whom he also considered to have much promise. Then, too, in 1911, when a young philosopher in India requested his assistance in placing an article in Mind, he not only saw to its placement, but offered as well to read the proofs. When late in 1922 he was approached by an Italian philosopher seeking assistance in securing a translation and publication of a book previously published in Italy, Bradley again took the request seriously, writing to Bosanquet for advice as to how he should respond. Such examples serve to illustrate that within the confines of his rather solitary life, Bradley exhibited both a generosity of spirit and a certain form of sociability which, save for his trips abroad and, in later years, occasional meals in Merton College’s dining hall, found expression almost exlusively through his correspondence.
About his own work as a philosopher, Bradley showed a remarkable diffidence, though his own words on this subject in the correspondence are restricted chiefly to the post-Appearance years. Oftentimes he appears genuinely indifferent to, if not reluctant about, the publication of a given paper in Mind, seemingly needing reassurance from Stout that the paper should be published. This reluctance, at least in part, is traceable to a deep concern not to be offensive or to create controversy. Given his polemical style in his earlier work, whether direct as in Ethical Studies and The Principles of Logic or indirect as in Appearance and Reality, his preoccupation with avoidance of controversy is at first somewhat surprising. Yet there are indications in the letters that he regretted his manner of expression at least in Ethical Studies and The Principles of Logic, considering it a sign of a certain immaturity. Then, too, his medical condition had taken a considerable toll on him by the mid-1890s, and stress and mental anxiety could trigger not only fatigue but kidney problems. However, as much as he sought to avoid controversy, it nonetheless found him. Through a misunderstanding of one of Bradley’s articles, James Ward had thought Bradley had wrongly criticized him. This led to an exchange in 1894 which showed that Bradley could still wield a brutal pen. Yet it was Bradley who made the first overture at healing the rift with Ward, albeit some twenty years later, by sending Ward a presentation copy of Essays on Truth and Reality. Aside from the controversy with Ward, his major source of aggravation was F. C. S. Schiller for whom Bradley was a special whipping boy.
Generally, Bradley had no objection to criticism of his views. What he found so offensive about Schiller was the latter’s sarcastic mode of expression and seeming quest for mere attention. That there was room within his thought for criticism, Bradley would be the first to acknowledge as his various publications reveal. But a striking feature of his letters is the extent to which he espoused discontent and dissatisfaction with his work.
The Presuppositions of Critical History he viewed as inadequate while writing it, its principal defect being the level of abstraction which engulfed it. In an effort to mitigate this problem, he sought to tie the concept of criticism in general to the individual making judgments in a historical context, and did so in an appended ‘Note’ to this work by sounding the call to ‘Go to personal experience’.13 But in seeking to acknowledge a ‘given’, he found himself asking why this ‘given’ rather than another. Put another way, he realized that he did not have a firm ground for the theory of experience that he introduced. This, together with his handling of the issue of probable evidence and analogy, which, again, he sought to improve through another appended ‘Note’, led him to fault the work’s conclusion.
His view of Ethical Studies is, however, rather more complex to assess. In 1881 he expressed utter disgust with the work to his sister Marian de Glehn, stating that if he were ever to publish a second edition, it would be a new book. In 1886, responding to a suggestion about an American reprint, he also speaks of the need to rewrite the book, though he doesn’t object to such a reprint nor does he repudiate the work. Then, in Appearance and Reality he notes that Ethical Studies in the main continues to represent his views, but in 1901, he says to Stout that he declined a request from his publishers to reissue Ethical Studies whether revised or not, and felt like asking them: ‘Am I a dog to return to my vomit?’14 The intensity of this remark echoes that which he made to his sister in 1881, though, given the context, it appears that it arises, at least in part, from Bradley’s disenchantment with ethics per se. In 1906, however, while in one instance stating that this work includes certain opinions no longer held by him, in another instance, in the midst of a dispute with an American company, G. E. Stechert, about pirating Ethical Studies and The Principles of Logic, he confides to Stout that he doesn’t mind their being reprinted. Moreover, he would later inform those seeking copies of Ethical Studies that they could procure this work from the firm of G. E. Stechert. By 1914, in the Preface to Essays on Truth and Reality, he signals his intent to reissue the work without rewriting it. In 1920 he writes of often regretting that the work was so long out of print, given its historical role, and reiterates his intent to reissue it, but with some additional material. He would also express regret in his last year or so that he had not tackled this work earlier.
What is one to make of these remarks? First, that Bradley came to acknowledge the historical role of Ethical Studies and respected that, is rather clear, and accords with his not being disappointed in seeing the work reprinted by the Stechert firm. Secondly, the statement made in Appearance and Reality, seems to have been genuine, and, the work as it appeared in the posthumous second edition, faithful to Bradley’s intended notes, does not depart in any radical sense from the original work. It is true that, in light of Bradley’s post-Appearance psychological writings, certain features of Ethical Studies would require alteration, for example, the subject of desire and volition. Then, too, because of his psychological work, his treatment of imputation and moral conflict could have been enriched. But these of themselves do not undermine the framework of the original work. The most significant alteration involves his coming to doubt whether the contradictions of morality could be surmounted in the religious sphere, in the union of the human and divine. There is, however, a third angle here, since some issues that Bradley wished to consider did not get developed, because he never completed the revision of Ethical Studies. For example, he wished to reconsider the matter of comparative moral judgments and the issue of degree of moral desert which he came to view as an insoluble one. He also had become sceptical of whether the study of morality can be useful practically.15 Since such questions would have no bearing upon the work’s importance historically, he could still reissue it, while offering an appendix to clarify his present views. Death simply intruded upon this plan. Finally, there is some suggestion that Bradley may have been dissatisfied with the tone of his work, especially his harsh comments about Alexander Bain. For, in correspondence with John Neville Keynes in January 1903, he expressed his regret at the manner in which he had spoken of John Venn and Bain in The Principles of Logic, and noted this regret as well in the second edition of The Principles.16 Since his manner of speaking about Bain in Ethical Studies is more harsh than in The Principles, one can only surmise that he had regrets about his tone there as well.
Of The Principles of Logic, Bradley’s view toward the first edition is stated very succinctly. Not only did he consider it ‘badly arranged & unnecessarily difficult’, he expressed the view that one need not read it, if one had his later Mind articles, the articles that he had included in Essays on Truth and Reality.17 He also wrote of it: ‘The whole book was rather crude & hasty but how far it really was less useful on that account I don’t know.’18 That he himself rarely looked at it is evidenced both in his subsequent publications and in the Bradley Papers. However, there are more specific reasons which he offers for his dissatisfaction with this work, namely, problems with his theory of disjunction, his position regarding ‘floating ideas’, his discussion of comparison, his usage of ‘sign’ and ‘symbol’, his consistently incorrect use of ‘disparate’ for ‘discrepant’ or ‘incompatible’, and an ambiguity in his discussion of ‘the possible’. Then, too, he considers his treatment of the ‘this’ to signal the larger issue of a shifting point of view about the nature of reality, moving between a common sense view of reality and his then undeveloped metaphysical view. But, once again, because of the historical character of this work, in its challenge to Aristotelian logic and the psychologism of Mill, he chose not to alter it by rewriting, but to append to it new material.
Regarding his dissatisfaction with Appearance and Reality because of its lack of a proper psychological account of feeling or immediate experience, we have already discussed this elsewhere, and there is no reason to dwell upon it further.19 But there were other issues that required attention as well, some of which Bradley touched upon in his Appendix to the second edition. However, because he had to prepare the second edition in haste, having been given only six months’ notice to do so, he drew upon letters he had written in response to criticisms of this work, especially upon his letter to Andrew Seth [Pringle-Pattison] in December 1894, a strategy giving the revision somewhat the character of a pastiche. Hence, once he more or less completed his work in psychology, he sought to readdress some of the issues that were lurking in Appearance and Reality and had caught the attention of critics, especially those of an epistemological nature. His once intended book on the criterion, to which he turned c. 1903 (CW, 3.2), was to reexamine the subject of truth and, thereby, supplement Appearance. Though this particular project was abandoned, his goal to revisit a wide variety of issues regarding the subject of truth was achieved in Essays on Truth and Reality, a work that in many respects is a commentary on Appearance and Reality. In his final two years Bradley would point up still other reservations about Appearance and Reality. He remarks in late 1922 that he had ‘not been through the book in years’ and does not know whether he has modified his positions, adding that he now would prefer another manner of stating his views, one giving emphasis to ‘the logical vice of all Analysis and Abstraction’.20 In 1923, he would comment that ‘the mood in which my book was conceived and executed, was in fact to some extent a passing one’.21
Bradley’s own dissatisfaction with his writings obviously does not nullify, as he himself recognized, the historical significance of these major works nor their potential contributions to continuing philosophic discussion. But it does highlight the importance of taking seriously his post-Appearance writings. For the psychological writings shed light both upon his metaphysics and upon his ethics, and inform to some degree his later writings as well. Moreover, Essays on Truth and Reality is seen as a work integral to the development of the positions taken both in Appearance and in the Principles, and serves also to illuminate some questions raised in Ethical Studies. Regarding the new material in The Principles, it is important not only in its offering correctives to difficulties in the first edition, but in its correction of the doctrine of uniqueness advanced in Essays on Truth and Reality as well as in its clarification of the use of ‘practical’ in that work. Moreover, Bradley considered his last work on relations (CW, 3.10 and 3.11) to be of ‘vital importance’ in clarifying his metaphysical view, given discussions by Alexander, Russell and DeWitt Parker.22
Of his own place in the history of philosophy, Bradley generally displays a certain modesty and is quick to admit his want of originality. When informed once of an individual’s intent to write an article about his philosophy, he responded: ‘I am glad to think my work has been of use to anyone. But that it deserves the time & trouble involved in an elaborate study I find difficult to believe. In other words the same pains bestowed on one of the well-known masters in the subject would in my opinion be better rewarded.’23 Though he never departs from the main sentiment in this remark, he does come to speak out on a couple of occasions about his deserving some credit for new directions in logic. For example, he questions Russell’s crediting of Peano and Frege with being the first to advance logic since Aristotle in light of their showing that ‘Socrates is mortal’ and ‘All men are mortal’ are fundamentally different propositions in form. He observes that in 1883 he had ‘pointed out a number of inferences which fell outside the category of subject & attribute & pointed out again that there was nevertheless a form in every possible inference’.24 Similarly in consideration of a Schiller article in 1915, which sought to credit Alfred Sidgwick with the view that an inference, impeccable in form, may be subject to the risk of error because of the ambiguity of the middle term, Bradley noted his having put forth this view as early as 1883.25
Certainly, Bradley was cognizant of having contributed to the elevation of philosophic discussion in his own land. In 1905 some thirty-four British philosophers, who considered themselves all to be in his debt, sought to have him sit for a portrait, though he declined.26 Over the years, moreover, he received a number of letters from his colleagues expressing their indebtedness to him. In 1923, when J. H. Muirhead approached him, informing him of the wish of his colleagues to dedicate Contemporary British Philosophy, First Series (1924) to him, Bradley declined, urging that this work instead be dedicated to Bosanquet, an urging that was not honoured. Then, too, early in his career, in April 1883, he received an L.L.D. from Glasgow University. Marian de Glehn notes that he also was offered an honorary degree from Durham University, but was unable to accept it. In his last years, however, he accepted several honours. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy in 1923, an Honorary Member both of the Royal Danish Academy of Science in 1921 and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome) in 1922, and a Corresponding Fellow of Reale Instituto Lombardo in Milan in 1922. On 2 June 1924, he learned officially that King George V had bestowed upon him the Order of Merit. The first philosopher to receive this honour, he expressed happiness at being a credit to his family and at the pleasure this was bringing to so many of his old friends.
On 17 June 1924 Bradley left for Europe and, upon his return in early September, immediately began work on Ethical Studies. From notes of his sister Marian, we learn that she was summoned to Oxford on 16 September, and that Bradley died on 18 September of blood poisoning at 11:45 a.m. at the Acland Home in Oxford. A brief service was held the evening of 22 September when Bradley’s remains were brought to the Merton Chapel, and the funeral service was conducted the next day at 3 p.m., with a Dr Harris playing several works of Bach. There were wreaths from the Warden and Fellows of Merton College, the Servants of Merton College, a Mrs Bates and his friend Albert Whitin. He was buried in the old Holywell cemetery in Oxford in the grave of his brother John (Jack) Hebert Bradley. The tombstone is engraved ‘In Loving Memory of Two Brothers’, though A. C. Bradley, too, was buried in this grave upon his death in 1935.
On 20 September The Times obituary appeared, written from an obituary that Bernard Bosanquet had placed on file. The Daily Telegraph also published an obituary on that day, a copy of which is in the Bosanquet Papers. The former refers to Bradley as ‘Master of English Philosophy’ and observes that ‘the whole philosophic world has lost “a master of those who know”’.27 The latter refers to him as ‘the most brilliant representative in these islands of what is known in philosophy as Idealism’.28 In the Second Series of Muirhead’s Contemporary British Philosophy, there would be a dedication to Bradley: ‘To F. H. Bradley, O.M. To Whom British Philosophy Owed The Impulse That Gave It New Life in Our Time.’29 This last is an assessment that Bradley himself could have accepted, since it does not suggest that he was among the ‘great philosophers’ from whom he always distanced himself nor does it attribute to him ‘originality’, a trait he, again, usually disowned. But it does justice to his role as the major force in the elevation of British philosophy across the over fifty years that he laboured in that field. In hindsight, though, this view is somewhat parochial in its scope, since Bradley’s influence would extend beyond British philosophy.
The renaissance of interest in Bradley’s philosophy, which began more or less in the 1960s, has generated much careful analysis of Bradley’s own thought and of its import to current philosophical issues. More recently, there has been a mushrooming as well of studies of his relationship to a host of philosophers in this century. Though the initial focus or emphasis of this work has been, understandably, upon his relation to others within the idealistic tradition such as Green, Bosanquet, Collingwood and Blanshard, increasingly this activity has expanded to include his relationship to such philosophers as Russell, James, Whitehead, Dewey and, most recently, Wittgenstein. Because of the current vitality and rigour of Bradley scholarship, one might expect to see down the road full-scale studies of Bradley and Wittgenstein, or Bradley and Dewey, or even Bradley and Alexander, or to consider another representative of idealism, Josiah Royce and Bradley. But it is not only those working principally in Bradley studies or, more generally, in idealism, that are engaged in this revisiting of Bradley’s work. It comes as well from those whose principal interest lies elsewhere, for example, in Russell studies. Then, too, there remains continuing exploration among Indian philosophers of Bradley’s relation to Indian philosophy, as has recently been highlighted.30 A bibliographical review of writings specifically on Bradley will show, moreover, that he is discussed in the 1930s as much in the philosophical journals of India as elsewhere.
There is one area in Bradley studies, however, which has received very little attention, namely, Bradley’s relationship to the phenomenological movement. Yet Heidegger read Bradley, Sartre read Bradley, and Marcel expresses a deep indebtedness to Bradley’s writings.31 Whether Bradley was read as well, for example, by Merleau-Ponty, doctrinal affinities in their respective points of view certainly exist, and we need to remember that one of the best expositors of Bradley’s thought was Jean Wahl, whose Vers le Concret (1932) and Les philosophies pluralistes d’Angleterre et d’Amérique (1920) were widely read, at least by French thinkers. As for the postmodern movement, Bradley’s long struggle with scepticism, without wholly yielding to it, might be an instructive antidote.
In several respects, as this century closes, it is returning to the kind of philosophic activity that Bradley himself thought so critical to philosophy, an activity involving not only an examination of issues from the perspective of more than one school of thought, but a revitalization of metaphysical enquiry as well. Contemporary philosophers are still debating issues and questions with which Bradley struggled, finding no easy solutions. There remain issues, for example, regarding the nature of experience, the relativity and historicity of knowledge, and the nature of consciousness, to say nothing of the age-old issue of the one and the many in its various manifestations. Questions that Bradley dealt with are also still current, for example, such questions as how one can counter a physicalist approach to mind, whether comparative judgments in morality are possible, whether there can be an ethic that is practically useful, and how the self can be communal without being reduced merely to that. Though it is hoped that Bradley’s correspondence will prove useful to scholars seeking to understand both his thought and its relation to that of his contemporaries, such understanding, once more or less achieved, will best repay Bradley’s own work by considering its import for succeeding generations or, as he would put it, by ‘re-opening all the main questions from another side’.32
1 See Aphorisms (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), p. 31.
2 For the most extensive biographical accounts, see Brand Blanshard, ‘Francis Herbert Bradley’, The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 22 (1925), pp. 5–15; G. R. G Mure, ‘F. H. Bradley: Towards a Portrait’, Encounter, vol. 88 (1961), pp. 28–35, which was previously published in Les études philosophiques,
vol. 15 (1960), pp. 75–89; and A. E. Taylor, ‘F. H. Bradley’, Mind, vol.34 ns (1925), pp. 1–12 and his ‘Francis Herbert Bradley, 1846–1924’, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 9 (1924–5), pp. 458–68. This Introduction, however, is based upon the Bradley Papers and Bradley’s letters. Because it is not my intent to offer a survey of Bradley’s philosophy, readers interested in such should consult Richard Wollheim, F. H. Bradley (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959; 2nd ed., 1969); H. B. Acton, ‘F. H. Bradley’, in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Paul Edwards, vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 359–63 and Stewart Candlish, ‘Francis Herbert Bradley’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta (Stanford, CA: CSLI, Stanford University, 1996), and ‘Francis Herbert Bradley’, in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig (London: Routledge, 1998), vol. 1, pp. 857–63.
3 For Bradley’s remark to James, see CW, vol. 5, pp. 288–9; for his remark to Stout, see pp. 187–91 in this volume.
4 See p. 70 in this volume.
5 See CW, vol. 5, p. 81.
6 See pp. 231–2 in this volume. Given this suggestion of auditory agnosia, in light of the determination that Bradley did have the visual form, Brand Blanshard’s description of Bradley’s manner of formulation of responses to questions during his visits with him takes on an added significance. See n. 1 above.
7 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 137–8.
8 See the Index to CW, vol. 5, under Allen & Unwin, and Stechert & Co.
9 Among the letters included are Bradley’s letters in 1892 to Clarendon Press about his submission and subsequent withdrawal of Appearance and Reality. Also included is the letter of Bradley very probably to Swan Sonnenschein, wherein he remarks that he was asked to withdraw the work informally by members of the Board of Delegates because the work was too ‘controversial’. Stewart Candlish provides ‘The Publishing History of Appearance and Reality’ as an appendix to his ‘Scepticism, Ideal Experiment, and Priorities’, in The Philosophy of F. H. Bradley, ed. Anthony Manser and Guy Stock (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), and hence there is no need to recount it here. Candlish closes his account by stating that he was unable to determine the source, or the truth, of the story that the Delegates found ‘controversial’ Bradley’s unorthodox view of God in that work. It was J. H. Muirhead who was the source, and there is no reason whatever to doubt his veracity; see his ‘Bradley’s Place in Philosophy’, Mind, vol. 34 ns (1925), pp. 173–84.
10 Family letters, together with some notebooks, mainly belonging to A. C. Bradley, materials that were handed down in the family and not deposited in the Bradley Papers, were destroyed in the late 1950s according to a letter the editor received from Bradley’s great-niece, Nancy Constance Miall. A book of reminiscences, to which G. R. G. Mure refers (see n. 2 above), appears to have been destroyed at this time as well. In keeping with Bradley’s instructions, his sister Marian de Glehn also destroyed some aphorisms which Bradley wished never to be seen.
11 This story the editor learned through correspondence with the late Alan K. Stout.
12 Bradley in a letter of 7 November 1923 to George Allen & Unwin, in commenting upon Benjamin Rand’s proposal for a second edition of Modern Classical Philosophers: Selections Illustrating Modern Philosophy from Bruno to Bergson (1924), expressed deep concern that it lacked a selection from Russell’s work and urged that such a selection be included in the new edition. Richard Wollheim notes this letter in F. H. Bradley, 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), p. 117, n., but incorrectly states that it was to Clarendon Press. The University of Reading Library holds the papers of George Allen & Unwin, including some thirty letters from Bradley and a postcard. They also have correspondence between Stanley Unwin and Marian de Glehn regarding the legal dispute over the transference of Appearance and Reality to Clarendon Press for a collected edition of Bradley’s works. Because Bradley kept meticulous records of letters written to publishing firms regarding this work, retaining drafts marked ‘copies’, I have relied upon these and not sought out the originals. Nonetheless, I am grateful to Steven Bayne and Kenneth Blackwell of the Russell List for calling to my attention the Wollheim footnote.
13 See ‘The Presuppositions of Critical History’ in CE, p. 70.
14 See AR, p. 356, n. 1; see also pp. 196–7 in this volume for his remark to Stout.
15 See CW, vol. 3, pp. 127–30 and CW, vol. 5, pp. 231–3.
16 See PL, p. 167, n. 28 and p. 347, n. 11, respectively. See also pp. 235–45 in this volume for his correspondence with Keynes.
17 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 29–30 and pp. 243–4.
18 See CW, vol. 5, p. 39.
19 See Introduction, CW, vol. 2.
20 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 274–5.
21 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 282–5.
22 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 261–5.
23 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 29–30.
24 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 207–208.
25 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 213–16 and CW, vol. 3, pp. 291–5.
26 See CW, vol. 5, pp. 10–11.
27 See ‘F. H. Bradley’, The Times, 20 September 1924, pp. 18–19.
28 See ‘The Death of F. H. Bradley, O.M.’, The Daily Telegraph, 20 September 1924, p. 11.
29 See J. H. Muirhead (ed.), Contemporary British Philosophy, Second Series (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925).
30 See Leslie Armour, ‘F. H. Bradley and Later Idealism: From Disarray to Reconstruction’, in Philosophy after Bradley, ed. James Bradley (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1996), pp. 1–30; see esp. pp. 8–9. It is convenient to note here some of the recent Bradley literature. The reader may also wish to consult Richard Ingardia, Bradley: A Research Bibliography (Bowling Green, Ohio: Philosophy Documentation Center, 1991) and the journal Bradley Studies which updates publications on Bradley. Works focusing on Bradley’s own thought include Philip MacEwan (ed.), Ethics, Metaphysics and Religion in the Thought of F. H. Bradley (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1996); Don MacNiven, Bradley’s Moral Psychology (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987); W. J. Mander, An Introduction to Bradley’s Metaphysics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994); W. J. Mander (ed.), Perspectives on the Logic and Metaphysics of F. H. Bradley (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1996); Anthony Manser, Bradley’s Logic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985); Anthony Manser and Guy Stock (eds.), The Philosophy of F. H. Bradley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984). For a wide-ranging collection of essays on Bradley’s influence on the English-speaking world, see James Bradley (ed.), Philosophy after Bradley (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1996), which includes not only Bradley’s influence on twentieth-century idealists, but comparative essays dealing with Bradley’s relation to Dewey, Russell and Whitehead as well. Two excellent studies that focus on Russell with consideration of Bradley are Nicholas Griffin, Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) and Peter Hylton, Russell, Idealism, and the Emergence of Analytical Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). Several essays in Guy Stock (ed.), Appearance Versus Reality: New Essays on Bradley’s Metaphysics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) consider Russell, one of which seeks to relate Bradley, Russell and the early Wittgenstein; other essays in this volume focus upon various aspects of Bradley’s own thought. See also Leemon B. McHenry, Whitehead and Bradley (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992) and T. L. S. Sprigge, James & Bradley: American Truth & British Reality (Chicago: Open Court, 1993). The journal Bradley Studies strikes an excellent balance between articles focused upon Bradley and those of a comparative nature.
31 See Fawzia Assaad-Mikhail, ‘Bradley et Heidegger’, Revue de métaphysique et de morale, vol. 75 (1970), pp. 151–88. In an interview with Simone de Beauvoir on 11 May 1982, my colleague Margaret Simons asked: ‘Did you, or Sartre, ever read the English philosopher, Bradley?’ Beauvoir answered: ‘Bradley, yes, but after such a long time, I don’t remember much about him. We read him during our studies. But “enfin”…he didn’t have much influence on us.’ What influence Bradley had on Sartre remains to be assessed. As Beauvoir scholars will point out, Beauvoir, since she tends to emphasize Sartre’s creativity, is not always the best source regarding influences upon Sartre, including her own. Regarding Gabriel Marcel, see his Creative Fidelity, trans. Robert Rosthal (New York: Noonday, 1964), p. 22; see also his Metaphysical Journal, trans. Bernard Wall (Chicago: Gateway, 1952) for several references to Bradley. It should be noted that T. L. S. Sprigge’s James & Bradley: American Truth & British Reality also includes discussion of Husserl. Sprigge has written as well ‘The Self and its World in Bradley and Husserl’, in The Philosophy of F. H. Bradley, ed. Anthony Manser and Guy Stock (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 285–302.
32 See CW, vol. 4, pp. 249–59.
Carol A. Keene 1999
Carol A. Keene, 'Introduction', Collected Works of F.H. Bradley, ed. W. J. Mander and Carol A. Keene (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1999), vol. 4: Selected Correspondence:ed. Carol A. Keene pp. xiii-xxxii.
© Carol A. Keene, 1999.
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