F. H. Bradley Additional Biography


(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Francis Herbert Bradley was a nineteenth century British philosopher whose career spanned more than five decades at Oxford University, where he was first elected to a fellowship in 1870. His writing eventually earned him Britain’s Order of Merit. Bradley’s keen critical analysis of the dialectic between the importance of spirituality and that of reality stood in opposition to utilitarian thought, whose advocates, such as John Stuart Mill, wrote that the goal of humankind should be to do that which would bring the greatest good to the greatest number of individuals. Bradley’s work was based on the ideals of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, which stressed the social nature of morality and held that one’s ethics was determined by one’s place in society. Since Bradley focused on the place of the individual within society, some of his critics have suggested that his ideas lead to moral relativism. Bradley’s most famous work, Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay, appeared in 1893. Although this book spoke of the spiritual nature of reality, Bradley recognized that the existence of that spiritual nature was impossible to prove intellectually because of the limitations of the human intellect.


(Survey of World Philosophers)

Article abstract: In the history of British philosophy, Bradley represents a point of view that is fundamentally idealist. He was a vigorous, gifted, brooding critic of England’s empirical philosophers.

Early Life

Francis Herbert Bradley was the fourth child of the Reverend Charles Bradley, an Evangelical minister, and Emma Linton Bradley. Little is known about his early life. He was educated at Cheltenham (1856-1861) and Marlborough (1861-1863), and in 1865 he attended University College, Oxford. In 1870, at the age of twenty-four, he became a fellow at Merton College, Oxford, where he remained until his death in 1924. A year after arriving at Oxford, he contracted a kidney disease...

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