Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Bernard Bosanquet

What was Bernard Bosanquet’s idealist doctrine?

Bosanquet acknowledged a tremendous debt to Friedrich Hegel’s (1770–1831) notion of the Absolute and was modest about his own contributions to Hegelian philosophy, although they were a significant departure. According to Bosanquet, contradictions occur in experiences when there are opposing views of the same fact. Truth is attained by eliminating such contradictions by incorporating them into a larger picture. The totality of human experience contains all of such truths and that is “The Absolute.” It can be seen from this that Bosanquet had an empiricist interpretation of Hegel—a view that itself was a contradiction!

Bosanquet also held that the Absolute contains all conflicting desires and satisfies all of them. The value of anything lies in its ability to satisfy desires, so the Absolute is the standard of all values. We can best realize all of our desires by surrendering our particular forms of them to the Absolute. This surrender is religious consciousness.


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