Hampshire, Sir Stuart Newton

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hampshire, Sir Stuart Newton

Sir Stuart Newton Hampshire, 1914–2004, British philosopher, grad. Oxford. He taught at Oxford, University College (London), London Univ., and Princeton before joining (1984, emeritus after 1990) the faculty of Stanford. Hampshire's work includes contributions in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, and aesthetics. His approach reflects his interest in psychoanalysis, literary theory, and art criticism. From his concern with the relationship between meaning and confirmation in logic, he argued that self-knowledge depends on social interaction. At the same time he emphasized the extent to which human actions are determined by introspection. Beginning with the observation that a person's dispositions are the result of experiences in early childhood, he argued that some measure of control over those dispositions can be obtained through an understanding of their origins. The importance he placed on introspection led him to reject the strict behaviorist position (see behaviorism), favoring instead Spinoza's connection of freedom and knowledge, a connection also made in psychoanalytic theory. Consequently, he held that any theory of ethics must take account of the fact that althought human nature is historically and genetically conditioned it is also essentially revisable—because of the possibility of self-conscious intentional action. Hampshire's works include Spinoza (1951), Thought and Action (1959), Freedom of the Individual (1965); Freedom of Mind and Other Essays (1971), Morality and Conflict (1983), Innocence and Experience (1989), and Justice Is Conflict (1999). He was knighted in 1979.

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