John (McTaggart Ellis) McTaggart (1866-1925)

3 September, 1866 - 18 January, 1925

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Motto (from Spinoza):" The free man thinks of nothing less than he does of death, and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life" (on memorial tablet in the antechapel of Trinity College Chapel)

Biographical Highlights

b., as John McTaggart Ellis, in  London, 3 September1866, to Francis and Caroline Ellis
As a condition of an inheritance from JME's maternal grand uncle, Sir John McTaggart, the family took the surname 'McTaggart.' Thus, JME became John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart
1870, death of JME's father
JME educated at Clifton College (1882-1885)
and at Trinity College, Cambridge (1885-1888) (Several of JME's relatives had attended Trinity)
1888, B.A. (placed alone in the first class of the Mental and Moral Science Tripos; won several prizes)
1891 and 1897, visits to his mother, who had emigrated toNew Zealand, and where he met and married his wife Daisy.
1891, elected to fellowship at Trinity. Fellowship thesis became the first 4 chapters of Studies in Hegelian Dialectic (1896). Sidgwick is reported to have said of this thesis that 'it was certainly nonsense, but was it the right kind of nonsense?'
1892, M.A. Cambridge
friend of Thomas Hardy
1896, Studies in the Hegelian dialectic (2d ed. 1922)
1897, became College Lecturer in the Moral Sciences, until 1922
1899-- Introduction to the study of philosophy
1901, Studies in Hegelian cosmology.
1902, Litt.D. Cambridge
1906, elected Fellow of the British Academy
1906, Some dogmas of religion
1910, A commentary on Hegel's logic
1914, LLD (honoris causa) St Andrews
voted in favour of dismissing Bertrand Russell from a College lectureship
1915, Human immortality and pre-existence [from Some dogmas]
1921, The nature of existence, volume 1
d. London 18 January 1925, at the age of 58 after a short illness, from an inherited, painful, circulatory disease .
1927, The nature of existence, volume 2, published posthumously; edited by C. D. Broad.

Principal works:

Secondary material Letters from


Bibliography - Secondary Materials


Biographical note at xrefer

David J. Buller and Thomas R. Foster, "The New Paradox of Temporal Transience," Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1992), pp. 357-366

Martin Luther King, Jr. "The Personalism of J. M. E. McTaggart Under Criticism" 4 December
1951  [Boston, Mass.]
In Volume II: Rediscovering Precious Values,
September 1951-November 1955


Analytic Philosophy,5716,115430+8+108676,00.html


Critical and Speculative Philosophy, by C. D. Broad


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Copyright © William Sweet 2001