BOWNE, of Puritan descent, was born on January 14, 1847, in Leonardsville, New Jersey. His childhood was quiet and uneventful, and he grew up a serious, studious and obedient boy, largely self-educated. The first time he left home for any considerable length of time was to go to New York University, where he developed an interest in philosophy; he graduated as the valedictorian in the class of 1871.
After two years of teaching, Bowne became pastor of a Methodist church in Whitestone, N.Y., for a short period. But he himself regarded this position as temporary. A thoroughly religious and moral man all his life, he nevertheless preferred to work in the field of philosophy. Aroused by the spreading popularity of the theory of evolution, he decided to subject it to a searching analysis. A sharply critical book, The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer, resulted. Before it was published, he departed for Germany to continue his education, and it was at Goettingen ( 1874) that he came under the strong influence of Rudolf Hermann Lotze ( 1817-1881).
On his return home, Bowne taught modern languages at his alma mater for a while, but soon he received an attractive offer to head the Department of Philosophy at Boston University ( 1876). Almost completely free in the administration of departmental matters, he was fully satisfied and remained teaching there to the end of his life. A gifted lecturer and lucid writer, with particular appeal to religious students, he made many disciples and friends. His social relations were quite democratic. He had many interests in addition to his family, teaching and writing. But his life was very simple, and he found enjoyable exercise and relaxation in gardening. Only once did he leave Boston for more than a few weeks, and that was to make a trip around the world, during which he combined pleasure with study of oriental philosophy ( 1905- 1906).
He died on April 1, 1910.
To understand Bowne's philosophy, we must first of all re-