Coherence (The philosophy of)


Coherence (The philosophy of)
Green, Bosanquet and the philosophy of coherence Gerald F.Gaus INTRODUCTION Along with F.H.Bradley (Bradley, F.H.), T.H.Green and Bernard Bosanquet were the chief figures in what is commonly called British idealism. Bradley is widely regarded as the most eminent philosopher of the three; his Ethical Studies, published in 1876, was the first in-depth presentation of idealist ethics, including an account of the individual’s relation to society (Nicholson, [14.45], 6). But after this initial work, Bradley had little more to say about ethics;1 the development of the moral, and especially the political, philosophy of British idealism was carried on by Green and his followers, particularly Bosanquet. Though he published little in his lifetime, Green (1836–82) had enormous influence through his teaching at Oxford. Green was appointed tutor in philosophy at Balliol in 1866 and in 1878 became White’s Professor of Philosophy, a post he held until his death in 1882. Green’s influence on his students apparently stemmed as much from his moral earnestness and the religious implications of idealism as from his philosophy, prompting C.D.Broad’s jibe that he turned more undergraduates into prigs than Sidgwick ever made into philosophers ([14.20], 144).2 As was the case with many of the British idealists, Green was a political and social reformer, being especially influential in educational reform (Gordon and White, [14.33]). Both of his major works were published after his death. Parts of his Prolegomena to Ethics were in a final form prior to his death; his main contribution to political philosophy was his Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, edited by R.L.Nettleship. Green, while sometimes dismissed as a philosopher, is almost always treated nowadays with sympathy; Bosanquet (1840–1923) cuts a much less sympathetic figure. In his many published works, he presented a more systematic—and apparently much harsher and more Hegelian—version of Green’s philosophy. Not only was he more obviously Hegelian, but Bosanquet seemed inevitably attracted to statements of his views that were most likely to outrage traditional English liberals, speaking, for example, of ‘the confluence of selves’ ([14.16], 107) and insisting that the moral person composing society is more real than what we call individual persons ([14.14], 145). Thus, the most famous attack on Bosanquet, L.T.Hobhouse’s Metaphysical Theory of the State, charges that Bosanquet’s theory is deeply illiberal: it is unable to account for the ‘irreducible’ separateness of selves and ultimately endorses a sort of State worship ([14.37], 62; Freeden, [14.29], 35). Yet Hobhouse absolves Green from his most serious charges; indeed, Hobhouse claimed that his own theory was the true successor to Green’s ([14.38], chapters 7–8; [14.39], chapters 5–6). Whereas Hobhouse can be called a ‘Left Greenian’, arguing in support of something like a welfare state, Bosanquet can be understood as a ‘right Greenian’ (Collini, [14.24], 107–8). Bosanquet spent very little of his life inside academia, the most important exception being his tenure as professor of philosophy at St Andrews University from 1903 to 1908. Most of his life was devoted to the Charity Organization Society (COS), which objected to State provision of welfare such as outdoor relief to the poor. Bosanquet and the COS insisted that such ‘mechanical’ measures are typically failures that produce dependency; in so far as the poor should be assisted, it must be accomplished through charity focusing on the detailed needs of each recipient—thus pointing to the importance of private social work. This separated Bosanquet from the ‘new liberals’ (who endorsed the welfare state), reinforcing the erroneous perception that Bosanquet was a Tory; throughout his life he was an active political liberal and reformer.3 The problem of the relation of Green’s and Bosanquet’s idealisms to their liberal politics can be resolved into three more specific questions. Firstly, in what ways are the political and moral views of Green and Bosanquet affected by their idealism? Though almost invariably referred to as the ‘British idealists’, the relation of their philosophy (logic, epistemology and metaphysics) to their moral and political theory remains, I think, obscure. Secondly, are their moral and political views liberal or, as is often charged, statist and illiberal? Thirdly, our answers to these questions should enlighten us on a third: is Bosanquet a bona fide follower of Green, or was Hobhouse right that he perverted Green’s teachings? EPISTEMOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS Philosophy and coherence Bosanquet called his major work in political philosophy The Philosophical Theory of the State; as I have said, Hobhouse’s critique was entitled The Metaphysical Theory of the State, suggesting that Bosanquet understood philosophy as essentially metaphysics. Yet this is not quite right. In the first paragraph of the Philosophical Theory of the State, Bosanquet explains what he means by a ‘philosophical theory’: ‘a philosophical treatment is the study of something as a whole and for its own sake’ ([14.14], 1). Later on he tells us that philosophy aims to establish ‘degrees of value, degrees of reality, degrees of completeness and coherence’ ([14.14], 47). For Bosanquet, as for Green, philosophy in its various guises aims at completion and harmony: epistemology, metaphysics, philosophical ethics and political philosophy are all manifestations of philosophy’s search for coherence and completion. Reason and knowledge Given this, it is most helpful to start from the perspective of epistemology. Coherence is the basic demand of reason itself. In contrast to, say, Hobbes, reason is not understood as essentially calculative—a matter of ‘reckoning, that is, adding and subtracting, of the consequences of general names agreed upon for the marking and signifying of thoughts’ (Hobbes, [14.34], 26). The ‘inherent nature of reason’, argues Bosanquet, is ‘the absolute demand for totality and consistency’ ([14.11], 8). It cannot be overemphasized that reason is a demand or, as Bosanquet says elsewhere, an ‘impulse’ ([14.13]:130). Logic ‘is merely the same as the impulse to the whole’ ([14.11], 7). That reason is an impulse driving us to expand and systematize our experiences allows us to make sense of Bosanquet’s otherwise obscure remark that ‘it is a strict fundamental truth that love is the mainspring of logic’ ([14.15], 341); both are expressions of the unifying and expanding impulse.4 To obtain knowledge, then, is to bring unity to our particular experiences, ‘through which phenomena become the connected system called the world of experience’ (Green [14.1], 15). We are thus led to a coherence theory of knowledge; to know that p is for p to be related to, and to cohere with, the rest of one’s beliefs or experiences. We need, though, to be careful here, for coherence goes considerably beyond requirements of formal consistency (Bosanquet [14.6], 2, chapter VII). Most importantly, coherence includes connectedness among beliefs and a richness of content ([14.15], 146); one who obtains consistency by compartmentalizing his or her system so that some beliefs are never related to others, or by impoverishing his or her experience (so that there is less that can conflict with the rest) to that extent falls short of the ideal of coherence. The fully coherent system would have to be complete, i.e., contain all true propositions. Knowers and the known Except for their insistence on the affective nature of reason, Green’s and Bosanquet’s epistemology is not terribly different from contemporary coherence theories of knowledge. The great gulf separating classical idealism from contemporary philosophy is the relation of the theory of knowledge to truth.5 One contemporary view, endorsed by Laurence Bonjour, is to combine a coherence theory of knowledge with a correspondence theory of truth. He writes: [O]ur concern is with coherence theories of empirical justification and not coherence theories of truth; the latter hold that truth is to be simply identified with coherence…. The classical idealist proponents of coherence theories in fact generally held views of both these sorts and unfortunately failed for the most part to distinguish them. And this sort of confusion is abetted by views which use the phrase ‘theory of truth’ to mean a theory of the criteria, of truth, that is, a theory of the standards or rules which should be appealed to in deciding or judging whether something is true; if, as is virtually always the case, such a theory is meant to be an account of the criteria which can be used to arrive at a rational or warranted judgment of truth or falsity, then a coherence theory of truth in that sense would seem to be indiscernible from what is here called a coherence theory of justification, and is quite distinct from a coherence theory of the very nature or meaning of truth. But if these confusions are avoided, it is clear that coherence theories of empirical justification are both distinct from and initially a good deal more plausible than coherence theories of the very nature or meaning of empirical truth and moreover that there is no manifest absurdity in combining a coherence theory of justification with a correspondence theory of truth. ([14.18], 88) Now whatever other philosophical errors the classical idealists committed (and no doubt there were many), confusing coherence theories of justification (or, as they might say, understanding) with coherence theories of truth was not one of them. Indeed, it is the apparent implausibility of a Bonjour-like proposal that, for Green, makes it necessary to embrace a coherence theory of truth. In the Prolegomena, having analysed our understanding of nature in terms of systematizing the objects of consciousness, Green writes: Now that which the understanding thus presents to itself consists, as we have seen, in certain relations regarded as forming a single system. The next question, then, will be whether understanding can be held to ‘make nature’ in the further sense that it is the source, or at any rate a condition, of there being these relations. If it cannot, we are left in the awkward position of having to suppose that, while the conception of nature on the one side, and that of the order itself on the other, are of different and independent origin, there is yet some unaccountable pre-established harmony through which there comes to be such an order corresponding to our conception of it. ([14.1], 22–3) For Green, to suppose that our understanding was achieved through coherence but that truth consisted in the correspondence of our beliefs with a pre-existing nature would make it utterly mysterious how pursuit of coherence reveals the truth about nature; only by supposing an established harmony between our reason and nature could this be so, but such a harmony is an implausibly strong assumption. The core idealist conviction is that, having replaced a representational theory of knowledge with a coherence account, this account can be maintained only by characterizing truth itself in terms of coherence.6 It is not simply that justified belief is a matter of coherence, but the very essence of truth is coherence and completeness. ‘The truth is the whole’ ([14.6], 2:204). Idealism guarantees that the truth—what nature is really like—is the coherent whole since nature is ultimately mind-dependent; nature is constituted by the unifying and completing force of mind. That being so, what the coherent mind knows is nature. But, of course, actual individual minds disagree about what nature is like; if each personal mind constituted its own nature, there would be as many natures as there are minds. Moreover, it would be obscure what scientific discovery could amount to; science searches for what exists but is yet not known. To avoid such difficulties reality cannot be dependent upon individual minds; hence we are led from personal idealism to Absolute idealism. Though Green is sometimes called a personal and not an Absolute idealist, this is surely wrong, for Green’s idea of an ‘Eternal Consciousness’ is straightforwardly Hegelian: That there is one spiritual self-conscious being, of which all that is real is the activity or expression; that we are related to this spiritual being, not merely as parts of the world which is its expression, but as partakers in some inchoate measure of the self-consciousness through which it at once constitutes and distinguishes itself from the world; that this participation is the source of morality and religion; this is what we take as to be the vital truth which Hegel had to teach. ([14.2], 146)7 The Eternal Consciousness—which Green identifies with God—is an all-inclusive consciousness; it is the mind upon which reality rests. Green apparently conceives of finite minds as somehow participating in the Eternal Consciousness—coming to consciousness of the relations in the Eternal Consciousness. The growth of our knowledge is, then, our increasing awareness of the Eternal Consciousness ([14.1], 75). Though much more developed, Bosanquet’s theory of the Absolute is not, I think, fundamentally different.8 For Bosanquet, the Absolute is the perfection of mind’s pursuit of coherence; it is the complete and harmonious mind. Or, rather, it is the systematization and completion of finite minds.9 ‘The general formula of the Absolute’, Bosanquet wrote, is ‘the transmutation and rearrangement of particular experiences, and also the contents of individual minds, by inclusion in a more complete whole of experience’ ([14.15], 373). And being the more complete and more harmonious mind, it is ultimate reality, since reality is mind-dependent. A recurring theme in Bosanquet’s philosophy is that the more harmonious and complete is the more real, a position that follows easily enough from the coherence view of knowledge combined with Absolute idealism. The upshot of this, of course, is that finite (i.e., personal) minds are incomplete and contradictory, and so less real. Though not as relentless as Bosanquet in insisting on this point, Green’s idealism based on the Eternal Consciousness too identifies the real with ‘everything’ ([14.1], 27). Idealist metaphysics, ethics and politics On the account I have sketched, it is misguided to understand Green’s and Bosanquet’s idealism as primarily a metaphysical theory, i.e., a theory about the nature of reality. Rather, their philosophy is based on (1) a conception of reason as a unifying, affective, force, (2) a coherence theory of knowledge or understanding, according to which knowledge is a system of relations, and so to know something is to relate it to our other beliefs; (3) an Absolute idealism, which was understood as the most plausible concomitant of (1) and (2).10 None of these elements is fundamental in the sense of being the basic doctrine from which the others are derived. On my account, the epistemological project leads to the metaphysical; that is, I believe that the former is the best way to explain the motivation behind the latter. But certainly the metaphysics in no way derives from the accounts of reason and knowledge (recall here Bonjour’s position). All three doctrines are manifestations of the overarching notion of coherence, the real key to understanding the idealism of Green and Bosanquet. Understanding the philosophy of the British idealists in this way allows us to approach an old question in a new light: do their moral and political philosophies derive from their metaphysics? My answer should not be surprising: talk of ‘derivation’ is misleading. Their accounts of the self, moral perfection, the common good, general will and the State are all applications of the ideal of coherence. This is not to say they are unrelated to the other elements of their philosophy; the analysis of reason, knowledge and reality lends plausibility to, and helps justify, their moral and political doctrines. In true coherentist fashion, the various doctrines are mutually reinforcing and justifying.11 It is, then, fruitless to look for any single doctrine from which the rest follow. THE SELF AND ITS PERFECTION The self as a system of content Having stressed that point, it also must be acknowledged that Bosanquet’s and Green’s analyses of selfhood are applications of their accounts of mind. If ‘the peculiarity of mind, for us, is to be a world of experience working itself out towards harmony and completeness’ (Bosanquet [14.15], 193), the same applies to selfhood; the self is an organization of content striving for coherence and completion (Bosanquet [14.11], 48; [14.15], 242). To say this is to emphasize that selfhood is not understood as being constituted by an abstract entity or pure ego (Green [14.1], 103–4; Bosanquet [14.10], 55); for Bosanquet and Green the self is not something apart from ‘feelings, desires and thoughts’ (Green [14.1], 104), but their unification and systematization. Bosanquet made much of the contrast to J.S.Mill, for whom true individuality consisted in the cultivation of ‘an inner self, to be cherished by enclosing it’ ([14.14], 57). This, Bosanquet admonished, was to get things precisely wrong; it locates individuality in a core of essentially empty privateness rather than an expansion of feelings, interests and experiences. ‘Individuality is essentially a positive conception…. Its essence lies in the richness and completeness of a self’ ([14.15], 69; [14.10], 89).12 On one side, then, Bosanquet and Green rejected ‘formal’ accounts of the self in terms of an abstract ego. However, they also criticized Humean or associationist accounts, which located the self (or, rather, failed to) in a series of contents. No mere succession of desires, feelings and thoughts could constitute a self; though the self is ‘not something apart from feelings, desires and thoughts’, it is not just simply them: it is ‘that which unites them’ (Green [14.1], 104; [14.4], 339–41).13 This, though, immediately threatens to lead back towards positing a ‘mysterious abstract entity which you call the self ([14.1], 104) that is different from, but unites, the feelings, desires and ideas that form the content of the self. In responding to this problem, I would suggest, Green and Bosanquet display their most important divergence, one which, we shall see, has significant consequences for their ethics and political philosophy. Green’s proposal has two elements. Firstly (and with this Bosanquet agrees), he stresses that the self cannot be a mere succession of thoughts, feelings and desires, but must form an organized system. Here Green’s epistemology and metaphysics do come into play. For to understand an experience is to relate it to the rest of one’s experiences, and for something to be real is for it to be located in such a web of understanding. This allows Green to turn the tables on Hume: If we are told that the Ego or self is an abstraction from the facts of our inner experience—something which we ‘accustom ourselves to suppose’ as the basis or substratum for these, but which exists only logically, not really,—it is a fair rejoinder, that these so-called facts, our particular feelings, desires, and thoughts, are abstractions, if considered otherwise than as united in an agent who is an object to himself. ([14.1], 104; see Thomas [14.56], 177) Green introduces here the second element of his reply: not only must desires, feelings and thoughts be systematized for them to be real and not abstract but the system must be selfconscious— one must be able to be an object to oneself. For Green such consciousness is absolutely fundamental to selfhood; indeed, his account of selfhood is essentially an account of self-consciousness, of an agent who is able to grasp his system of desires as ‘an object to himself. Though both elements are present in Bosanquet’s theory of the self, there is a marked stress on the organizational aspect and a deemphasising of self-consciousness. Bosanquet too rejects associationist views of the self: ‘In mind…the higher stage of association is organization. The characteristic of organization is control by a general scheme, as opposed to juxtaposition of units’ ([14.14] 152). In his Psychology of the Moral Self Bosanquet developed his account of the organization of the self in depth. ‘The psychical elements of the mind are so grouped and interconnected’, he wrote, ‘as to constitute what are technically known as Appercipient masses or systems’ ([14.10], 42).14 Such a system, Bosanquet writes, is a set of ideas, bound together by a common rule or scheme, which dictates the point of view from which perception will take place, so far as the system in question is active. And without some ‘apperception’, some point of view in the mind which enables the new-comer to be classed, there cannot be perception at all. The eye only sees what it brings with it the power of seeing…. A child calls an orange a ‘ball’; a Polynesian calls a horse a ‘pig’. These are the nearest ‘heads’ or rules under which the new perception can be brought. ([14.14], 155) A person organizes experience in terms of these ‘schemes of attention’; as different situations arise, one mass will arise to prominence in consciousness, leaving the others inert ([14.14], 162). The self,15 then, is a multiplicity of such systems. However, because one appercipient mass forces the others from consciousness, the self is always imperfectly coherent; inconsistencies and contradictions are hidden because different systems do not rise to consciousness at the same time. Note that, though consciousness is a necessary element of this theory, it does not have the dominant role that Green ascribes to a person who can grasp his system of desires as ‘an object to himself. In contrast to Green, Bosanquet makes a great deal of the extent to which ‘an adult mind contains an immense structure of automatic machinery’ ([14.15], 181); the automatic, and so unconscious, aspect of selfhood always looms large in Bosanquet’s theory. The idea of an ‘I’ who unites desires into a system is replaced by the theory of appercipient mass. Self-consciousness now seems to be more a recognizer than a forger of unity.16 Self-perfection Perhaps not quite. Bosanquet certainly recognizes that the self strives for greater coherence. Our nature as self-conscious beings is, he says, to strive for harmony and unity ([14.11], 193–4; [14.16], 189). Indeed, he classifies himself and Green as ‘Perfectionists’ ([14.16], 208ff.). Their account of self-perfection can be analysed into four claims. The good Green and Bosanquet accept the Hegelian critique of Kant: his doctrine of the ‘Good Will’ is ‘ultimately an empty abstraction, an idea of nothing in particular to be done’ ([14.4], 154). The first step in rectifying this over-formality is an account of the good: the good, says, Green, satisfies desire ([14.1], 178). The argument, though, quickly takes an Aristotelian turn, stressing the pursuit of perfection, or the development of capacities, as the basis of self-satisfaction: The reason and will of man have their common ground in that characteristic of being an object to himself…. It is thus that he not merely desires but seeks to satisfy himself in gaining the objects of his desire; presents to himself a certain state of himself, which is the gratification of the desire he seeks to reach; in short wills. It is thus, again, that he has an impulse to make himself what he has the possibility of becoming but actually is not, and hence not merely, like the plant or animal, undergoes a process of development but seeks to, and does, develop himself. ([14.1], 182) This impulse to develop, Green goes on to say, is an impulse to realize one’s capacities. Thus Green ultimately holds that a person’s good is identified with the development of his capacities, especially the intellectual. Both Green and Bosanquet maintain that individuals have natural capacities for intellectual, social and artistic endeavours (including handicrafts),18 the cultivation of which is the ground of self-perfection. Self-satisfaction and coherence Thus far the impulse to develop is not moralized; it is, says Green, ‘the source, according to the direction it takes, both of vice and virtue’ ([14.1], 183). Some attempts at selfsatisfaction are ‘self-defeating’, as ‘is the quest for self-satisfaction in the life of the voluptuary’ (183). The self, we have seen, is a system of content, and reason is an impulse towards completion and unity. Applied to the development of our capacities, this leads to the idea that self-satisfaction—as opposed to the satisfaction of discrete desires or capacities—requires the development of our capacities into a coherent whole. ‘The state of mind in question…is that in which the impulse towards self-satisfaction sets itself upon an object which represents the self as a whole, as free from contradiction or at its maximum of being, and triumphs over the alien and partial will, the tendency to narrower tracks of indulgence’ ([14.14], 132). Green’s view is much the same, though as always he stresses the role of self-consciousness as crucial, in this instance its role in distinguishing mere desires from those that are self-satisfying ([14.4], 304). In any event, this distinction allows Green and Bosanquet to identify capacities as good or evil in terms of their ability to be integrated into a coherent system of developed capacities. A person developing capacities that cannot be integrated into the whole, such as the voluptuary, can satisfy some of his or her desires, but cannot find self-satisfaction. An obvious rejoinder presents itself: if a self is organized around only voluptuary interests, coherence can be obtained and, it would seem, self-satisfaction too. But this will not do. As we have seen, coherence goes beyond mere consistency to include fullness of content. Consequently, Bosanquet analyses selfishness as an effort to seek coherence through narrowing rather than expanding the self ([14.10], 97). This path to coherence is ultimately self-defeating. Since reason is an impulse to coherence and completion, seeking coherence through narrowing is irrational, or, as Bosanquet says in his sometimes colourful way, it ‘involves stupidity’ ([14.13], 232).19 Remember here that reason is an impulse; such stupidity thus seeks to block our rational impulse towards coherence. Consequently, the success of the narrowing strategy is always illusory: It is the narrowness of a man’s mind that makes him do wrong. He desires more than he can deal with; indeed he aspires to be self-complete. But what he can make his own, as a set of values which do not conflict, is little. And of what is extruded something refuses to be suppressed and forms the nucleus of rebellion. Thus the good we are able to aim at is narrow and distorted, and more than that, the elements of the good which our narrowness forces us to reject lie in ambush to conflict with the good we recognise, itself poor and narrow and so weakened for the struggle. ([14.13] 107; see also [14.14], 135–7) This is Bosanquet’s description of the ‘bad self or evil will’. The ‘good will’, then, is determined by ‘the connected system of values, that is to say, as much of it as we can appreciate’ ([14.13], 133). The Kantian concept of the good will is thus transformed into a will determined by reason in the sense of a coherent system of capacities or values.20 Diversity It may appear to follow from this that the impulse towards self-satisfaction would lead to the development of essentially similar selves. We all seem committed to essentially the same project: the harmonization of as many capacities or values as possible. This, though, is precisely the view Green and Bosanquet reject (see Green [14.1], 201). As Bosanquet puts it, ‘It takes all sorts to make a world’ ([14.15], 37). Individual quests for selfsatisfaction lead to the development of diverse personalities, and this for at least three reasons. Firstly, individual natures differ: people are born with different capacities, some excelling in intellectual pursuits, some in the arts, some in crafts and so forth. Given these different starting points, the quest for coherence leads us in different directions.21 Secondly, Green ([14.2] 3–19; [14.1], 201, 256) and especially Bosanquet recognized that external circumstances can profoundly influence the course of one’s self-development. Bosanquet repeatedly stressed that ‘The soul or self is formed by the requirements of its surroundings; that is, the universe so far as it has contact with it’ ([14.11], 91).22 Our different circumstances thus lead us to develop our capacities in different directions. Lastly, even apart from differences in individual natures and circumstances, the very richness of human possibilities means that, if we are to cultivate our capacities at all, we must specialize: ‘in the development of human nature, which we take to be the ultimate standard of life, no one individual can cover the whole ground’ ([14.14], 164). Our inherent imperfection If no one individual can cover the full ground of human nature, no one can attain absolute perfection—a coherent self encompassing all values. As Bosanquet would say, our finite nature limits us, absolute perfection is impossible; at one point Bosanquet goes so far as to declare that ‘man is a self-contradictory being, in an environment to which he can never be adapted’ ([14.12], 300). The best we can accomplish is a narrow, imperfect coherence. And since a narrow coherence is the root of evil, ‘evil and suffering must be permanent in the world’ (300). In one of his rare criticisms of Green, Bosanquet charges that Green underestimated the gap ‘between human experience and perfection’ ([14.16], 165). And it is, I think, true that the gap between the human condition and perfection is a much more important theme in Bosanquet than in Green.23 To be sure, Green is explicit that we cannot have an adequate conception of what perfection would look like, since we have not as yet obtained it: ‘[o]f what ultimate well-being may be, therefore, we are unable to say anything but that it must be the complete fulfillment of capacities.’ Yet Green goes on to insist that ‘the idea that there is such an ultimate well-being may be the guiding idea of our lives’, and so we judge a particular person’s life on the basis of how closely it approaches ‘the end in which alone he can find satisfaction for himself’ ([14.1], 256). In all this there is at least a suggestion that we do not fall hopelessly short of perfection. Yet the difference between Green and Bosanquet here is a matter of nuance. Green too accepts that the individual has absolute limitations on the possibility for selfrealization; the ‘dream’ that these can be done away with is ‘the frenzy of philosophy’ ([14.2], 86). In true idealist fashion Green insists that ‘the whole can never be fully seen in the parts’ (86). True perfection can exist only in the overall coherent system of values, which no individual life can fully express. SOCIETY, THE COMMON GOOD AND THE GENERAL WILL Society as an organic whole An individual’s pursuit of perfection requires participation in social life. This is obviously true, of course, in the perfectly straightforward sense that society ‘supplies all the higher content’ to one’s conception of oneself, ‘all those objects of a man’s personal interest, in living for which he lives for his own satisfaction, except such as are derived from his purely animal nature’ (Green [14.1], 201). More fundamentally, Green and Bosanquet follow Hegel in insisting that ‘it is through the action of society that the individual comes at once to practically conceive his personality—his nature of an object to himself—and to conceive the same personality as belonging to others’ (Green [14.1]). It is only through ‘some practical recognition of personality by another, of an “I” by a “Thou” and a “Thou” by an “I”’ (Green [14.1], 210) that consciousness of personality arises (see Bosanquet [14.10], 49–50). All this, though, is commonplace. Of much more interest is that reason—the impulse to coherence—leads us to participate in a more inclusive scheme of value, which covers the ground of human nature more fully than can any single life. One who pursues perfection must, as I have said, develop only some of the many capacities inherent in human nature; no matter how successful one is in doing so, one ultimately realizes that one’s perfection is really imperfect, i.e., partial and incomplete. It is here that our impulse to unite values into a coherent scheme leads us into social life. As Bosanquet understands it, ‘our imperfection [i.e., partiality] enables us to better stand for something which is to have its due stress in the whole’ ([14.11], 61). But the overall system, encompassing these many partial excellences, more closely approaches perfection than any single element. The different partial perfections of others thus complement and complete one’s own; the ‘ultimate coherence of all excellences’ ([14.15, 379) is better manifested in a complex social life that unites and harmonizes the diverse partial excellences of individuals. Consequently, the same principle that unifies the self also explains the unity of the self with others ([14.15], 315). This allows us to make sense of the much-abused claim that society is an organism. Bosanquet quite clearly did not mean that, just as the end of all the body parts is the survival of the organism, we should all make service to society our end ([14.15], 9). The idea, rather, is that organic unity is a mode of organization based on interlocking and complementary differences, the totality of which is in some way more complete than any of the elements. Often Bosanquet called such a unity a ‘world’ or a ‘cosmos’: A world or a cosmos is a system of members, such that every member, being ex hypothesi distinct, nevertheless contributes to the unity of the whole in virtue of the peculiarities which constitute its distinctness. And the important point for us at present is the distinction between a world and a class. It takes all sorts to make a world; a class is essentially of one sort only. ([14.11] 37) So understood, the idea that society is an organism is not illiberal. It stresses that cooperative systems based on diverse individual aims and capacities can accomplish more than can any single individual alone, something a student of the market should not find troubling, at least so long as, in Bosanquet’s words, every member remains ‘distinct’. It is here, perhaps, that Bosanquet gets into difficulty. Recall that according to Bosanquet’s theory of appercipient masses, a self is composed of a number of such systems (pp. 414– 16). This suggests a three-level theory of coherence: (1) each appercipient system is unified by a leading idea, and so organizes an aspect of experience or personality; (2) the individual self is an organization of these appercipient systems; and (3) a social group is an organization of individual selves. The problem is that the second level of coherence tends to get squeezed out, leading to an account of social unity in terms of simply (1) and (3). Bosanquet acknowledges that in some examples…there seems little reason to distinguish the correlation of dispositions within one person from the correlation of the same dispositions if dispersed among different persons. If I am my own gardener, or my own critic, or my own doctor, does the relation of the answering dispositions within my being differ absolutely and altogether from what takes place when gardener and master, critic and author, patient and doctor, are different persons?… If we consider my unity with myself at different times as the limiting case, we shall find it very hard to establish a difference in principle between the unity of what we call one mind and that of all the ‘minds’ which enter into a single social experience. ([14.14], 165–6)24 Though Bosanquet insists that ‘there is no suggestion that selfhood is a trivial or unreal thing’ ([14.15], 298), one could well be excused for thinking he may be suggesting just that. The difficulty, at least on the view I have been developing here, is that Bosanquet’s theory of the self puts such great weight on the principle of coherence, while relatively so much less on self-consciousness. To the extent selfhood is to be accounted for simply in terms of coherence, there is indeed a pressure for this middle level of coherence (the self) to evaporate as first level unities (the appercipient masses) form larger systems, be they within the same human or across a number of people. Green avoids these difficulties by always insisting on a person’s self-consciousness as the fundamental unifying factor.25 Green too believes that ‘it is human society as a whole that we must look upon as the organism in which the capacities of the human soul are unfolded’ ([14.1] 295). And, Green also believes that our excellences are complementary and interlocking (pp. 420–1). However, as we have seen, Green puts great stress on each individual as a centre of self-consciousness. Hence, even while insisting that perfection must occur in an organic society, Green can immediately add that ‘Human society is indeed a society of self-determined persons. There can be no progress of society which is not a development of capacities on the part of persons composing it, as ends in themselves’ ([14.1], 295). The individual self is in no danger of evaporating in Green’s account of the organic whole. This becomes even clearer when we examine his theory of the common good. Green’s theory of the common good Green begins his section of the Prolegomena on ‘reason as the source of the idea of a common good’ by claiming that a ‘distinctive social interest on our part is a primary fact’. Now the self of which a man thus forecasts the fulfillment, is not an abstract or empty self. It is a self already affected by manifold interests, among which are interests in other persons. These are not merely interests dependent on other persons for the means to their gratification, but interests in the good of those persons, interests which cannot be satisfied without the consciousness that those other persons are satisfied. The man cannot contemplate himself as in a better state, or on the way to the best, without contemplating others, not merely as a means to that better state, but as sharing it with him. ([14.1], 210) It is, Green claims, ‘an ultimate fact of human history that out of sympathies of animal origin, through their presence in a self-conscious soul, there arise interests as of a person in persons’ ([14.1], 212). Note the contrast to Bosanquet. Though both insist that reason leads us from our own perfection narrowly conceived to a concern with perfection in others, for Green this is crucially an interest in the perfection of other persons, not simply in the perfection of the capacities of human nature. It is not trivial that while Bosanquet claims that ‘the development of human nature’ is ‘the ultimate standard of life’ ([14.14], 164), Green insists that ‘our ultimate standard of worth is an ideal of personal worth’ ([14.1], 193). For Bosanquet, society is an intermeshing of developed capacities or values; for Green it is an intermeshing development of persons. Those who uphold Green’s liberalism while insisting upon Bosanquet’s illiberalism are apt to stress just this point (e.g., Morrow, [14.43], 94). Two problems, however, confront this ‘liberal’ aspect of Green’s theory. Firstly, Green can certainly say, as he does, that ‘[a]ll values are relative to value for, of, or in a person’ in the sense that ‘[t]o speak of any progress or improvement or development of a nation or society or mankind, except as relative to some greater worth of persons, is to use words without meaning’ ([14.1], 193). Yet this worth of persons cannot be ‘ultimate’. As Bosanquet was fond of stressing, ‘some particular personality becomes important by what it embodies’ ([14.15], 22). Our value as persons derives ultimately from our contribution to the overall system of value (and this opens up the rather unsettling possibility that some persons may be in ‘surplusage’, i.e., those who make no unique contribution to the whole; Bosanquet [14.15], 116). The value must ultimately reside in the whole rather than the parts. To be sure, in contrast to Bosanquet’s, in Green’s theory the development of persons as opposed to capacities or values is essential for perfection of the whole, but this leads to the second problem. In order to extend the principle of coherent, intermeshing, personal development to the social order, Green postulates a distinctive interest of people in each other’s perfection: the perfection of personality becomes the crucial value in the overall scheme of things. To the extent that this interest really is claimed to be a ‘primary fact’, it invites Sidgwick’s rejoinder that it is not ‘justified by anything we know about the essential sociality of ordinary human beings’ (Sidgwick [14.54], 57). In contrast, Bosanquet’s theory supposes no additional social impulse; just as reason leads to the systematization of interests and values within a self, it leads to a social organic unity. According to Green, then, the common good includes the good of all: it is the harmonious realization of all our individual perfections.26 That which promotes the common good can be willed by all, and so the common good provides the substantive element that was lacking in Kantian ethics. Reason is realized in one’s idea of ‘selfperfection, by acting as a member of a social organization, in which each contributes to the better well-being of all the rest’ ([14.5], 16). In addition, the theory of the common good provides an account of the motivation to be moral; since our good includes the good of others, the pursuit of our own good necessarily involves the common good, and so the good of others. ‘The only reason why a man should not be used by other men as a means to their ends is that he should use himself as a means to an end which is really his and theirs at once’ ([14.5] 120). Upon reflection, however, the extent to which Green has provided substance to the Kantian moral ideal may seem fairly modest; a standard criticism is that the idea of the common good is at best vague and at worst empty (see Nicholson [14.45], 71–80). The crux of Green’s reply is given in the previous paragraph: we achieve self-perfection by ‘acting as a member of a social organization’. The cultivation of one’s capacities is a social activity not just because it involves the perfection of others but because it relies on the ‘institutions of civil life’ which give ‘reality to these capacities, as enabling them to be really exercised’ ([14.5], 16). This leads Green to endorse a theory of one’s station and its duties: The idea, unexpressed and inexpressible, of some absolute and all-embracing end is, no doubt, the source of…devotion, but it can only take effect in the fulfillment in which it finds but a restricted utterance. It is in fact only so far as we are members of a society, of which we can conceive the common good as our own, that the idea has any practical hold on us at all, and this very membership implies confinement in our individual realisation of the idea. Each has primarily to fulfill the duties of his station. His capacity for action beyond the range of those duties is definitely bounded, and within it is definitely bounded also his sphere of personal interests, his character, his realised possibility. ([14.1], 192; see also 341–2) Green thus understands a social order as a harmonious—or at least largely harmonious— integration of social roles, such that each person’s roles allow one to organize one’s capacities while contributing to the satisfaction of others (Thomas [14.56], 302). This does not commit Green to a rigid conservatism; room remains for adjusting social roles to render them more coherent, which includes making them more inclusive (indeed, as we will see, that is a crucial function of the State; [14.56], 292). But it certainly does mean that one’s possibilities for self-perfection are very much sensitive to the social structure and roles available. Moreover, Green is quite clear that, while an actual system of stations and duties is necessary for self-perfection, it also confines avenues for development. Bosanquet’s theory of the general will Bosanquet endorses both the doctrines of (1) the common good and (2) my station and its duties. ‘The individual’, said Bosanquet, ‘has his nature communicated to him as he is summoned to fit himself for rendering a distinctive service to the common good’ ([14.14], 290; see also [14.17], 113). Bosanquet acknowledges that he follows Green very closely on such matters, but believed that his exploration of the psychological foundations of the general will was one his important contributions ([14.14], viii). Green himself suggested the link between the common good and the general will in his Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, where he remarked that ‘the truth’ latent in Rousseau’s doctrine of the general will is that ‘an interest in the common good is the ground of political society’ ([14.5], 70). Following Rousseau, Bosanquet characterizes the general will as the will of the entire society so far as it aims at the common good ([14.14], 99). But just what sort of ‘will’ can a whole society share? Bosanquet believes that the key to the answer is in Plato’s political philosophy: The central idea is this: that every class of persons in the community—the statesman, the soldier, the workman—has a certain distinctive type of mind which fits its members for their functions, and that the community essentially consists in the working of these types of mind in their connection with one another, which connection constitutes their subordination to the common good. ([14.14], 6) This brings us back to Bosanquet’s theory of social unity and appercipient masses. ‘Every individual mind, so far as it thinks and acts in definite schemes or contexts, is a structure of appercipient systems or organized dispositions’ ([14.14], 161). Now, Bosanquet goes on to argue, those participating in the same social institution or social group—those who share a common life—possess similar appercipient systems; their minds are similarly organized, and it is this which constitutes their common mind and will ([14.14], 161–2). Not only may the systems of appercipient masses be compared to organizations of persons; they actually constitute their common mind and will. To say that certain persons have common interests means in this or that respect their minds are similarly organized, that they will react in the same or correlative ways upon given presentations. It is this identity of mental organization which is the psychological justification for the doctrine of the General Will. ([14.10], 129; see Chapman [14.22], 129–30) So those who share common interests share similar mental organization, and it is this shared mental organization that is articulated by the general will. Note that at this point Bosanquet depends not simply on coherence—on a fitting together of different minds into a broader unity—but on similarity of organization. ‘All mutual intelligence’, Bosanquet claims, ‘depends upon the fact that individuals cover each other in some degree’ ([14.15], 116n.); social organization thus depends on the similarity or repetition of selves. It is not entirely clear how this principle of social life as based on similarity of organization coheres with that of organic unity,27 but it does at least allow Bosanquet to argue that a general will is necessarily limited to a community sharing a common life. ‘[T]he common life shared by the members of a community involves a common element in their ideas, not merely in their notions of things about them, though this is very important, but more especially in the dominant or organizing ideas which rule their minds’ ([14.16], 260). Consequently, those sharing no common life—such as mankind as a whole—cannot possess a general will ([14.12], 271–301). The general will, Bosanquet claimed, is our ‘real will’, which can be contrasted to our ‘actual will’. This distinction, which drives most liberals to distraction (e.g., Berlin [14.19], 133; Hobhouse [14.37], 44ff.)28 follows easily enough from Bosanquet’s analyses of self, the common good and reality. The self, we saw, is a system of desires, interests and beliefs, which reason seeks to make harmonious. Of course, actual selves are shot with contradictions ‘through and through’ ([14.14], 111). As we saw, appercipient systems tend to crowd each other out; that which is conscious displaces the others, making it very difficult to render the entire system coherent. In order to obtain a full statement of what we will, what we want at any moment must at least be corrected and amended by what we want at other moments; and this cannot be done without also correcting and amending it so as to harmonize with what others want, which involves the application of the same process to them. But when any considerable degree of such correction had been gone through, our own will would return to us in a shape in which we should not know it again, although every detail would be a necessary inference from the whole and resolutions which we actually cherish…. Such a process of harmonization and adjusting a mass of data to bring them into rational shape is what is meant by criticism. ([14.14], 111) Thus Bosanquet’s first claim is that a fully coherent self and will, which took into account our interest in the common good, would be very different from a self and will that had not undergone this process of rational reconstruction. The second claim, that the former is more real than the latter follows directly from the idealist claim that the criterion of reality is coherence—that with greater coherence is more real. THE STATE Bosanquet: the general will and the state Most readers share Hobhouse’s conviction that Bosanquet’s theory of the general will justifies authoritarianism. If (1) the general will is our real will and if (2) the government interprets the general will, then (3) when the government tells us what to do it is really only informing us what we really want to do. And if (4) the government forces us to do as it instructs it is only forcing us to do what we really want to do. ‘Thus it is that we can speak, without a contradiction, of being forced to be free’ ([14.14], 118–19).29 But this is to misrepresent Bosanquet’s theory; the problem lies in step (2), the idea that the government interprets the general will (see Nicholson [14.45], 214–15). To be sure the State does represent, at least partially, the real will ([14.14], 141). But the State is not the government. The State ‘includes the entire hierarchy of institutions by which life is determined, from the family to the trade, and from the trade to the Church and the University’ (140). Such institutions are systems of similarly and correlatively organized minds; the State is a system of those systems; its aim is unified coherence among these institutions. It is plain that unless, on the whole, a working harmony were maintained between the different groups which form society, life could not go on. And it is for this reason that the State, as the widest grouping whose members are effectively united by a common experience [and, so a general will], is necessarily the one community which has absolute power to ensure, by force if need be, at least sufficient adjustment of the claims of all other groups to make life possible. Assuming, indeed, that all the groupings are organs of a single pervading life, we find it impossible that there should ultimately be irreconcilable opposition between them. ([14.14] 158) But, as should be clear by now, no one individual, indeed no group of individuals, can be conscious of the system of intelligence that constitutes society. That would be for a part to fully know the whole, a claim that runs counter to almost every aspect of Bosanquet’s philosophy. Consequently, Bosanquet is suspicious of claims by individuals that they know the general will. He is thus a harsh critic of Rousseau’s attempt to uncover the general will through direct democracy; in the end, all Rousseau’s method reveals is the ‘will of all’. [T]he very core of the common good represented by the life of the modern Nation-State is its profound and complex organization, which makes it greater than the conscious momentary will of any individual. By reducing the machinery for the expression of the common good to the isolated and unassisted judgments of the members of the whole body of citizens, Rousseau is ensuring the exact reverse of what he professes to aim at. He is appealing from the organized life, institutions, and selected capacity of a nation to that nation regarded as an aggregate of isolated individuals. ([14.14], 109) Bosanquet is thus hesitant about endorsing state policies intended to articulate the general will: ‘our life is probably more rational than our opinions’ ([14.16], 218). This does not mean that Bosanquet opposes the reform of institutions,30 but it does imply that such reform is best worked out by the participants who engage in the common life that comprises those institutions. Moreover, Bosanquet is very impressed by the way in which inadequate knowledge of institutions and ways of life leads to reforms with deleterious consequences, such as poor relief that produces dependency ([14.7]: 3ff., 45ff.; [14.17], 103–16). To be sure, Bosanquet does not embrace what he calls ‘administrative nihilism’, i.e., refusal ever to employ conscious policy to further the common good ([14.17], 301; [14.9], 358–83; [14.14], xxxvi). The ‘distinctive sphere’ of State agency ‘is rightly described as the hindrance of hindrances of good life’ ([14.14], xxxii). However, Bosanquet was an adamant critic of economic socialism, precisely because it sought to impose a conscious plan on society. In contrast to economic individual-ism, economic socialism, he charged, seeks to substitute a mechanical, contrived, unity for the organic unity of society. ‘I confess that I believe modern Economic Socialism to rest in part on this ineradicable confusion. “We want a good life; let us make a law that there shall be a general good life”’ ([14.9], 316, 330). Green’s new liberal tendencies In most respects Bosanquet is a faithful disciple of Green, and this applies to political philosophy. But three thematic differences—differences in emphasis rather than sharp divergences of principle—point their political theories in somewhat different directions. The stress on individual rights The first has been emphasized throughout this chapter: Green makes much more of individuals as self-conscious pursuers of their perfection, and puts somewhat less weight on institutions as weaving an only partially conscious unity. Let me stress once again that is a matter of emphasis; Green too believes that the State is a ‘society of societies’, and that its main task is to adjust the various claims of the societies to produce ‘harmonious social relations’ ([14.5], 110, 112). But Green’s account quickly focuses on the State as ‘an institution in which all rights are harmoniously maintained’ ([14.5]:130). Because the self-conscious pursuit of individual perfection looms so large in Green’s work, he gives more prominence to a theory of individual rights, reinforcing the view that he is a more devoted liberal. But we need to be cautious here, for Green’s conception of individual rights is not particularly close to those prominent in contemporary political theory. For him ‘A right is a power claimed and recognized as contributory to a common good’ ([14.5], 79).32 Today readers are apt to think of rights along the lines suggested by Ronald Dworkin, as claims that protect individuals by trumping society’s collective goals ([14.28], xi). Green seems to have precisely the opposite view: ‘a right against society, as such, is impossible’ (no). The core supposition of the Dworkinian theory of rights—that the social and individual good regularly conflict—is precisely the view that Green (and Bosanquet) reject. ‘The principle which it is here sought to maintain is that the perfection of human character—a perfection of individuals which is also that of society, and of society which is also that of individuals—is for man the only object of absolute or intrinsic value’ (Green [14.1], 266–7). The criticism of actual States A State that is to harmonize individual rights must ensure that the structure of rights is such that all are able to contribute to the common good. Now, and here Bosanquet explicitly disagrees ([14.14], ix, 269–70), Green believed that in the States of his time the lower classes were effectively precluded from participating in the common good. The idea of civil society as ‘founded on the idea of there being a common good’ is, he insists, unrealized ‘in relation to the less favoured members of society’; indeed social life is a ‘war’ ([14.1], 263). Consequently, those at the bottom of the economic order have inadequate opportunity for self-development. Even more fundamentally, Green indicates that class differences themselves prevent common understanding in society ([14.2], 42). For Green, then, the actual States of his era do not adequately articulate the idea of the State as rationalizer (i.e., harmonizer) of rights; of the most defective instances, such as Imperial Russia, he says that we count them as States ‘only by a sort of courtesy’ ([14.5], 103). This drives Green to a more reformist position than we find in Bosanquet’s political philosophy. Consciousness of the common good Our inability adequately to grasp the common good is not a dominant theme of Green, unlike Bosanquet, and this, of course, opens up more possibilities for State action. To be sure, Green insists that the law cannot make a person moral: that the law cannot make men good—that its business is to set them free to make themselves good—I quite agree. The question is, how these truisms are to be applied. I am no advocate of beneficent despotism. No tendency, inconsistent with the recognised principles of English legislation, lurks under my use of the phrases ‘constructive Liberals’ or ‘organic reforms’…. As instances of what I mean by ‘organic social reforms’ I should specify compulsory education, restraint on the power of settling real estate and on freedom of contract in certain respects, specially in respect of Game, between Landlord and Tenant, the inspection of dwelling houses, [and] the compulsory provision of them in some cases. ([14.5], 345n.)33 So Green’s ‘constructive’ programme was by no means radical; and he certainly was no socialist ([14.5], 163–78, 313–17). As is well known, both Green and Bosanquet stress that self-development requires private property rights.34 Still, Green can soundly claim the title of ‘constructive Liberal’ as he allows that the State, and especially local government, can have sufficient insight into the common good to justify political reforms (cf. Harris [14.35]). This is the aspect of Green’s political theory upon which Hobhouse builds; Hobhouse insists that the State does have the capacity to regulate public life for the better pursuit of the common good.35 Again, whereas Bosanquet is apt to stress the unconscious nature of the general will, Green consistently gives a greater role to the conscious apprehension of perfection. CONCLUSION Bosanquet developed and systematized Green’s idealism (Nicholson [14.45], 4). But development and systematization do not mean that he merely repeats what Green says at greater length. Bosanquet carries the principle of coherence and unity further, explaining social unity without appeal to a primary social interest. Moreover, his theory of appercipient mass provides a psychological interpretation of social unity and the general will far more sophisticated than anything we find in Green. Yet it was the theory of appercipient mass and his relentless pursuit of the idealist theme of coherence that yielded his thin account of selfhood. Green is not, as many have said, a Kantian, but his Absolute idealism is not as developed as Bosanquet’s; it is perhaps for this very reason that Green has a thicker account of selfhood. It is this difference, rather than ones in their political philosophies or actual political proposals, that grounds the intuition that Green has a stronger claim to a place in the liberal pantheon. NOTES This chapter was written during my tenure as a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University. My thanks to the Center for its generous support. I would also like to express my gratitude to Sharon Hayes: I have greatly benefited from her work on T.H.Green. My thanks also to Sterling Burnett and Ken Cust for their research assistance. 1 A second edition of Ethical Studies was published after Bradley’s death. 2 See further Richter [14.51]. 3 For helpful accounts of Bosanquet’s relation to the ‘new liberals’, see Collini [14.24], Clarke [14.23], Freeden [14.29], Gaus [14.31], Vincent and Plant [14.58]. 4 For a useful overview of Bosanquet’s logic, see Passmore ([14.48], 86–7). 5 If knowledge is justified true belief, it may be argued that a coherence theory of knowledge implies a coherence theory of truth. For a development of this suggestion, see Davidson [14.27]. If one finds this terminology confusing, one can substitute ‘coherence theory of justified belief’ for ‘coherence theory of knowledge’ in what follows. 6 Richard Rorty ([14.53], 299) holds that this was the great mistake of idealism. Having rejected a representational account of knowledge, the idealists still wanted to say that in some sense our understanding of nature was true to nature’s understanding of herself, that we were justified in believing not only what coheres with our concepts but that this reveals what is true, i.e. what nature is really like. 7 See also Quinton [14.50]; Crossley [14.26], Thomas ([14.56], 141–5). Cf. Milne [14.40], chapter V. 8 Cf. John Morrow’s claim [14.42] that whereas Green’s metaphysics is ‘immanentist’, Bosanquet’s is ‘transcendentist’. See also Geoffrey Thomas’s argument that Green’s theory is a ‘personal’ idealism, to be contrasted to the social idealism of Bosanquet and Bradley ([14.56], 142). 9 Precisely in what sense the Absolute is ‘composed’ of finite minds, and whether we can be said to be ‘members’ of it is problematic. See Bosanquet ([14.16], 98ff.). But note his remark that ‘the Absolute needs us and our conduct just as we need it’ (222). 10 Admittedly, this judgement of plausibility depends on a certain religious disposition, at which we are apt to smile today. But those smiles fade a bit when we contemplate Rorty’s diagnosis [14.53] of our epistemological theories about how we know nature as it really is. 11 Consequently, if as Thomas argues (and I believe he is right), Green’s ethics does not require ‘the full-blown metaphysics’ ([14.56, 150), it still may be the case that the ethics derives justification from the rest of the system. 12 Bosanquet is referring here to both individuality and originality. I have elsewhere argued that Bosanquet’s contrast between his view and J.S.Mill’s is overdrawn. See Gaus ([14.31], 15ff.). 13 For an excellent account of Green’s criticism of Hume’s theory of the self, see Thomas ([14.56], 173ff.). 14 For one of the best accounts of Bosanquet’s theory of the appercipient mass, see Chapman ([14.22], 128ff.). 15 Bosanquet speaks here of ‘mind’. 16 ‘The consciousness in a particular human self of the identity of its own experiences is merely, as I understand the argument, a case of apprehension of the whole’ (Bosanquet [14.16], 155). Understood as a gloss on Bosanquet’s argument, this seems correct; what is somewhat surprising is that the ‘argument’ referred to here is Green’s, which Bosanquet is intending to explicate. 17 This is an abbreviated account; see Gaus ([14.31], chapters 1 and 2). 18 For this last, see Bosanquet ([14.14], x; [14.13], 219). 19 See his discussion of the aphorism: ‘We are not hard enough on stupidity’ ([14.13], 213). 20 These are essentially the same. As Bosanquet remarks, ‘Value is the power to satisfy’ ([14.15], 297). 21 David L.Norton ([14.47], 54–5) disputes this concerning Green. I criticize Norton’s interpretation in Gaus [14.31], 20–2. 22 Bosanquet, indeed, makes so much of the way in which the mind is a product of nature he sometimes gives the impression of being more a materialist than an idealist. See Passmore ([14.48], 88–9). 23 Though, oddly enough, their positions are reversed when analysing the state; Green insists that actual states are further from the ideal. See pp. 429–31 above. 24 As Thomas points out ([14.56], 221), this view has certain similarities to Derek Parfit’s. 25 H.A.Prichard ([14.49], 73) argued that Green too denied the distinction between persons. For a criticism of Prichard, see Gaus ([14.31], 61–4), Nicholson ([14.45], 64ff.). 26 For an excellent account of Green’s theory of the common good, see Nicholson ([14.45], 54– 82. 27 Cf. Bosanquet’s insistence that ‘Nevertheless, upon a scrutiny of the true operative nature of social unity, we find that repetition and similarity are but superficial characteristics of it. What holds society together, we find, are correlative differences; the relation which expresses itself on a large scale in Aristotle’s axiom “No State can be composed of similars”’ ([14.16], 249). See Bosanquet’s distinction between an association and an organization ([14.14], chapter VII; [14.16], 261). 28 For an unusually thorough and judicious account of Bosanquet’s theory of the general will, and the place of his doctrine of the real will in it, see Nicholson ([14.45], 189–230). 29 In this chapter I have not examined the theory of positive freedom. Compared to other BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Green 14.1 Prolegomena to Ethics, ed. A.C.Bradley, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1890). 14.2 Works of Thomas Hill Green, vol. III, ed. R.L.Nettleship, London: Longman’s, Green, 1891. 14.3 Works of Thomas Hill Green, vol. II, ed. R.L.Nettleship, London: Longman’s, Green, 1893. 14.4 Works of Thomas Hill Green, vol. I, ed. R.L.Nettleship, London: Longman’s, Green, 1894. 14.5 Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation and Other Writings, ed. Paul Harris and John Morrow, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Works by Bosanquet 14.6 Logic, or the Morphology of Knowledge, 2 vols, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888. 14.7 Essays and Addresses, 2nd edn, London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1891. 14.8 ‘Hegel’s Theory of the Political Organism’, Mind, 7 (1898):1–14 14.9 The Civilization of Christendom, London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1899. 14.10 Psychology of the Moral Self, London: Macmillan, 1904. 14.11 The Value and Destiny of the Individual, London: Macmillan, 1913. 14.12 Social and International Ideals, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1917. 14.13 Some Suggestions in Ethics, London: Macmillan, 1918. 14.14 The Philosophical Theory of the State, 4th edn, London: Macmillan, 1923. 14.15 The Principle of Individuality and Value, London: Macmillan, 1927. 14.16 Science and Philosophy and Other Essays, London: Allen & Unwin, 1927. 14.17 ed. Aspects of the Social Problem, London: Macmillan, 1895. aspects of British idealism, this has received extensive treatment. The best account of Green’s theory of freedom is Nicholson ([14.45], 116–31). See also Weinstein [14.59]; Simhony [14.55], Norman ([14.46], 26–53), Milne ([14.41], 146ff.); Roberts [14.52]. 30 Again, care is called for here. Bosanquet considered himself a radical, and was prepared to accept social legislation to alleviate evils. (Muirhead [14.44], 48, 134). 31 Not that Bosanquet disagrees ([14.12], 274). 32 On Green’s theory of rights, see Cacoullos [14.21], Nicholson ([14.45], 83–95). 33 Letter to W.V.Harcourt, 1973, quoted in Harris and Morrow’s notes to Green’s ‘Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract’ [14.5]. See also Nicholson ([14.45], 159). 34 See Green ([14.1], 201; [14.5], 163ff.), Bosanquet ([14.14], 281–2; [14.17], 308–18). This has led to Marxist-inspired criticisms of Green, such as Green-garten [14.34]. For a discussion, see Morrow [14.42]. 35 For the importance of this theme in the development of the ‘new liberalism’, see Gaus ([14.32], 21–3). Collini doubts whether Green’s idealism actually strongly supported new liberal collectivism ([14.24], 44–6). Other works 14.18 Bonjour, L. The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985. 14.19 Berlin, I. ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, in his Four Essays on Liberty, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 120–72. 14.20 Broad, C.D. Five Types of Ethical Theory, London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, 1930. 14.21 Cacoullos, A.R. Thomas Hill Green: Philosopher of Rights, New York, Twayne, 1974. 14.22 Chapman, J.W. Rousseau—Totalitarian or Liberal, New York: AMS Press, 1968. 14.23 Clarke, P. Liberals and Social Democrats, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978. 14.24 Collini, S. ‘Hobhouse, Bosanquet and the State’, Past and Present, 72 (1976): 86– 111. 14.25——Liberalism and Sociology: L.T.Hobhouse and Political Argument in England, 1880–1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. 14.26 Crossley, D. ‘Self-conscious Agency and the Eternal Consciousness: Ultimate Reality in T.H.Green’, Ultimate Meaning and Reality, 13 (1990):3–20. 14.27 Davidson, D. ‘A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge’, in Alan Malachowski, ed., Reading Rorty, London: Blackwell, 1990, 120–38. 14.28 Dworkin, R. Taking Rights Seriously, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978. 14.29 Freeden, M. The New Liberalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979. 14.30——Liberalism Divided, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. 14.31 Gaus, G.F. The Modern Liberal Theory of Man, London: Croom Helm, 1983. 14.32——‘Public and Private Interests in Liberal Political Economy, Old and New’, in S.I.Benn and G.F.Gaus, eds, Public and Private in Social Life, London: Croom Helm, 1983, 183–221. 14.33 Gordon, P. and J.White. Philosophers as Educational Reformers: the Influence of British Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice, London: Routledge, 1979. 14.34 Greengarten, I.M. Thomas Hill Green and the Development of Liberal-Democratic Thought, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981. 14.35 Harris, P. ‘Moral Progress and Politics: The Theory of T.H.Green’, Polity, 21 (1989):538–62. 14.36 Hobbes, T. Leviathan, ed. M.Oakeshott, London: Blackwell, 1948. 14.37 Hobhouse, L.T. The Metaphysical Theory of the State, London: Allen & Unwin, 1918. 14.38——The Rational Good, London: Watts, 1947. 14.39——Liberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964. 14.40 Milne, A.J.M. The Social Philosophy of English Idealism, London: Allen & Unwin, 1962. 14.41——Freedom and Rights: A Philosophical Synthesis, London: Allen & Unwin, 1968. 14.42 Morrow, J. ‘Property and Personal Development: An Interpretation of T.H. Green’s Political Philosophy’, Politics, 18 (1983):84–92. 14.43——‘Liberalism and British Idealist Political Philosophy: A Reassessment’, History of Political Thought, 5 (1984):91–108. 14.44 Muirhead, J.H., ed., Bernard Bosanquet and His Friends, London: Allen & Unwin, 1935. 14.45 Nicholson, P.P. The Political Philosophy of the British Idealists, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 14.46 Norman, R. Free and Equal, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. 14.47 Norton, D.L. Personal Destinies: A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. 14.48 Passmore, J. A Hundred Years of Philosophy, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978. 14.49 Prichard, H.A. Moral Obligation and Duty and Interest, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. 14.50 Quinton, A. ‘Absolute Idealism’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 57 (1971):303–29. 14.51 Richter, M. The Politics of Conscience: T.H.Green and his Age, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1964. 14.52 Roberts, J. ‘T.H.Green’, in Z.Pelczynski and J.Gray, eds, Conceptions of Liberty in Political Philosophy, New York: St Martin’s, 1984, 243–62. 14.53 Rorty, R. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. 14.54 Sidgwick, H. Lectures on the Ethics of T.H.Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer and J.Martineau, London: Macmillan, 1902. 14.55 Simhony, A. ‘Beyond Negative and Positive Freedom: T.H.Green’s View of Freedom’, Political Theory, 21 (1993):28–54. 14.56 Thomas, G. The Moral Philosophy of T.H.Green, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987. 14.57 Vincent, A., ed., The Philosophy of T.H.Green, Aldershot: Gower, 1986. 14.58 Vincent, A. and R.Plant. Philosophy, Politics and Citizenship: The Life and Thought of the British Idealists, Oxford: Blackwell, 1984. 14.59 Weinstein, W.L. ‘The Concept of Liberty in Nineteenth Century Thought’, Political Studies, 13 (1965):145–62. A good bibliography of works relating to Green’s moral theory can be found in Thomas [14.56] and concerning Green’s political theory in [14.5]; see also the bibliography in Vincent [14.57]. Nicholson [14.45] and Vincent and Plant [14.58] contain useful bibliographies of works relating to British idealism, including both Green and Bosanquet.

Routledge History of Philosophy. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Descartes: metaphysics and the philosophy of mind — John Cottingham THE CARTESIAN PROJECT Descartes is rightly regarded as one of the inaugurators of the modern age, and there is no doubt that his thought profoundly altered the course of Western philosophy. In no area has this influence been more… …   History of philosophy

  • coherence theory of truth — The view that the truth of a proposition consists in its being a member of some suitably defined body of other propositions: a body that is consistent, coherent, and possibly endowed with other virtues, provided these are not defined in terms of… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Philosophy of mathematics — The philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. The aim of the philosophy of mathematics is to provide an account of the nature and methodology of …   Wikipedia

  • Philosophy of science — is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science. The field is defined by an interest in one of a set of traditional problems or an interest in central or foundational concerns in science. In addition to these central… …   Wikipedia

  • Philosophy (The) of the Italian Renaissance — The philosophy of the Italian Renaissance Jill Kraye TWO CULTURES: SCHOLASTICISM AND HUMANISM IN THE EARLY RENAISSANCE Two movements exerted a profound influence on the philosophy of the Italian Renaissance: scholasticism and humanism, both of… …   History of philosophy

  • Philosophy of space and time — is the branch of philosophy concerned with the issues surrounding the ontology, epistemology, and character of space and time. While such ideas have been central to philosophy from its inception, the philosophy of space and time was both an… …   Wikipedia

  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions — (1962), by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm shift .HistoryThe work was first published as a monograph in the …   Wikipedia

  • The Value of Science — is a book by the French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher Henri Poincaré. It was published in 1905. The book deals with questions in the philosophy of science and adds detail to the topics addressed by Poincaré s previous book, Science… …   Wikipedia

  • The Decline of the West — Cover of Volume II, first edition, 1922 The Decline of the West (German: Der Untergang des Abendlandes), or The Downfall of the Occident, is a two volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918.… …   Wikipedia

  • Philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard — Søren Kierkegaard s philosophy has been a major influence in the development of 20th century philosophy, especially in the movements of Existentialism and Postmodernism. Søren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher who has been called… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.