T. L. S. Sprigge
F. H. Bradley (1846-1924) was a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, for all his adult life. Though his personality and life are interesting, information about them is not required for an understanding of his philosophy. Suffice it to say that he was widely acknowledged as the most important British philosopher of his time.
His thought represents the climax of the late nineteenth-century reaction in Britain against British empiricism and utilitarianism, and turning towards the great German masters, Kant and more especially Hegel. Bradley’s pages are shot through with negative remarks on this tradition, exhibiting a particular hostility to J. S. Mill, contrasting here with the much more balanced criticisms in the work of such other main figures of the absolute idealist reaction against it as T. H. Green (1836-82) and Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923). Yet Bradley, despite himself, often develops his idealism in ways closer to the British empiricist tradition than do these other thinkers. This was, indeed, a point made against some of his work by Bernard Bosanquet, who mostly held very similar views.
Apart from a number of articles on introspective psychology (included in Collected Essays, 1935, posthumously published) Bradley’s main works are Ethical Studies (1876; second edition 1927, [15.4]); The Principles of Logic 1883; second edition 1922, [15.3]); Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay (1893; second edition 1897, [15.1]). In each case the second edition includes important new material. We will give some account of each of these works, respectively on ethics, logic and metaphysics. References will also be made to the important late collection of essays, reprinted from journals, called Essays in Truth and Reality (1914, [15.2]).