G. E. MOORE
G. E. Moore (1873–1958) was professor of philosophy at Cambridge University and one
of the leading philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century. As a student at Cambridge University, he was a close acquaintance, though more a rival than a friend, of Bertrand
Russell. He was also the leader of the Bloomsbury group of writers and artists which included such illustrious intellectuals as John Maynard Keynes, Leonard and Virginia Woolf,
and Lytton Strachey. He was editor of the British philosophy journal Mind
from 1921 to
1947 and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1951. Perhaps his most influential work
is Principia Ethica
(1903) where he argues for the indefinability of “good.”Moore was a defender of common sense against skeptics and others who derided our
ordinary beliefs. He argued that there is a vast amount of shared knowledge about the world,
expressible in ordinary language and about which we can be quite certain. In this essay—
which is a combination of two of his articles, “A Defence of Common Sense” and “Proof
of the External World”—Moore argues that skepticism is decisively refuted by common
sense. The essence of the argument is as follows:
|1. ||If skepticism is true, we do not have knowledge of the external world.|
|2. ||But we do have knowledge of the external world (Moore gives many examples).|
FOR FURTHER READING
Baldwin, Thomas. G. E. Moore (London, 1990).
Copleston, F. C. Contemporary Philosophy (Newman Press, 1963).
Moore, G. E. Philosophical Papers (George Allen & Unwin, 1959).
Moore, G. E. Some Main Problems of Philosophy (Collier Books, 1962).
Passmore, John. A Hundred Years of Philosophy (Macmillan, 1957).
Schilpp, P. A., ed. The Philosophy of G.E. Moore (Open Court, 1942).