The Vindication of Absolute Idealism

The Vindication of Absolute Idealism

The Vindication of Absolute Idealism

The Vindication of Absolute Idealism

Synopsis

When Timothy Sprigge's The Vindication of Absolute Idealism appeared in 1983 it ran very much against the grain of the dominant linguistic and analytic traditions of philosophy in Britain. The very title of this work was a challenge to those who believed that Absolute Idealism fell with the critiques of Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore at the beginning of the 20th century. Sprigge, however, saw himself as providing an underrepresented position in the philosophical spectrum rather than as advocating an abandoned view. For him, idealism did not fall at any determinate point in the history of philosophy. The truth of any philosophical thesis cannot depend on what happens to be currently fashionable, but rather must stand on the soundness of philosophical argument. To this end, The Vindication of Absolute Idealism is a bold statement of his conclusions, a synthesis of panpsychism and absolute idealism, which he contends is the most satisfactory solution to the question of the nature of consciousness and the mind-body problem. Sprigge's view of consciousness remains a challenge to mainstream physicalism and a viable option that addresses pressing contemporary concerns not only in metaphysics and philosophy of mind but also in environmental ethics and animal rights.

Excerpt

This work sets forth part of the upshot of metaphysical puzzlings which have been with me most of my life. I first reached a panpsychist view of things before I went to university, as a soldier in the fair city of Graz (whose importance in the history of philosophy was then quite unknown to me), as a result of my reflections on Berkeley's two key works and Herbert Spencer First Principles which constituted the admirable philosophic holding in the camp library. I have adhered to this view, without complete fidelity, ever since. It, and other positions advocated here, were associated until quite recently with a negative attitude to idealism, as I understood this. It is only in the last few years that they have become for me a step in the progress to that kind of absolute idealism which I hope to vindicate here as the best answer to very real questions. I hope, therefore, that some of my individual discussions, such as that of the nature of relations, will be found interesting in their own right, quite apart from the destination to which I have found them leading.

The long gestation of these ideas means that they do not spring out of controversies belonging to one particular period but from considerations which it seems to me must be perenially significant. The thinkers by whom I have been most influenced are Spinoza, Schopenhauer, F. H. Bradley, Santayana and William James. The influence of the last two is considerable and is mainly positive, in spite of the fact that they are absolute idealism's most perceptive critics. I am aware of places where some readers will think there should have been explicit attention to the work of philosophers not discussed, such as Wittgenstein and Frege, but time and space were limited and James, Bradley, Whitehead and Husserl have seemed to me more helpful in arriving at answers to the deep ontological questions about the concrete nature of reality with which I have been concerned, and I ask of my so far hypothetical complainants whether in their approach to questions on which my favoured thinkers have had their say they take adequate account of that.

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