An Introduction to Bradley's Metaphysics

By W. J. Mander | Go to book overview
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System and Scepticism

IN this last chapter I want to turn to some general questions concerning the interpretation of Bradley's philosophy. If we examine the range of critical opinions, we find that there are a number of issues in Bradley's philosophy on which there exist a polarity of interpretative viewpoints. Most of these should be familiar from the foregoing study, but let us review some of them.


To begin with, there is the question of who were his main influences. While some cite the German idealists, and those such as Stirling, Caird, and Green1 who introduced their ideas into England, others stress more strongly the influence of metaphysical realists, such as Lotze, Sigwart, Wundt, and Herbart,2 as well as the native British tradition of sceptical empiricism to which Bradley was an heir. Most controversial of all, there is the question of the influence of Hegel. Was Bradley, or was he not, a Hegelian? Similar disagreements occur about whom he was directing his philosophy against. While some see his chief targets as the British schools of empiricism and utilitarianism, originating in Mill,3 he has also been portrayed as a critic of the Hegelians and Kantians.4

Moving to more substantial issues, there is disagreement about the relative roles of logic and metaphysics in his philosophy. Was he primarily a logician or a metaphysician? While some have regarded him at bottom as a metaphysician, and only consequently as an advocate of something sometimes called 'idealist logic', others have tried to separate his logic from, and emphasize it over, his metaphysics.5 There is similar disagreement about whether to

Stirling ( 1865); Green ( 1885-8); Caird ( 1893).
Lotze ( 1884); Herbart ( 1850-93), i; Sigwart ( 1895); Wundt ( 1897).
Wollheim ( 1969); McHenry ( 1992).
Muirhead ( 1931), 219.
Contrast Vander Veer ( 1970) and Manser ( 1983).


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