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Francis Herbert (F.H.) Bradley
Full name Francis Herbert (F.H.) Bradley
Born 30 January 1846
Died 18 September 1924
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School British idealism
Main interests Metaphysics, Ethics, Philosophy of history, Logic

Francis Herbert Bradley, OM, (30 January 1846 – 18 September 1924) was a British idealist philosopher.



He was born at Clapham, Surrey, England (now part of the Greater London area). He was the child of Charles Bradley, an evangelical preacher, and Emma Linton, Charles's second wife. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Marlborough College, and at some point in his teens, read some of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. In 1865 he entered the University College, Oxford. In 1870, he was elected to a fellowship at Oxford's Merton College where he remained until his death in 1924. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery in Oxford.

During his life, Bradley was a respected philosopher and was granted honorary degrees many times. He was the first British philosopher to be awarded the Order of Merit. His fellowship at Merton College did not carry any teaching assignments and thus he was free to continue to write. He was famous for his non-pluralistic approach to philosophy. His outlook saw a monistic unity, transcending divisions between logic, metaphysics and ethics. Consistently, his own view combined monism with absolute idealism. Although Bradley did not think of himself as a Hegelian philosopher, his own unique brand of philosophy was inspired by, and contained elements of, Hegel's dialectical method.

However, Bradley's philosophical reputation declined greatly after his death. British idealism was practically eliminated by G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell in the early 1900s. Bradley was also famously criticised in A. J. Ayer's logical positivist work, Language, Truth and Logic, for making statements that do not meet the requirements of positivist verification principle, e.g. statements such as "The Absolute enters into, but is itself incapable of, evolution and progress."

In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Bradley's and other idealist philosophers' work in the Anglo-American academic community.


Bradley rejected the utilitarian and empiricist trends in English philosophy represented by John Locke, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill. Instead, Bradley was a leading member of the philosophical movement known as British idealism, which was strongly influenced by Immanuel Kant and the German idealists, Johann Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel, although Bradley tended to downplay his influences. Bradley's ideas are sometimes compared to those of the Indian philosopher Adi Shankara.

One characteristic of Bradley's philosophical approach is his technique of distinguishing ambiguity within language, especially within individual words. This technique might be seen as anticipatory of later advances in the philosophy of language.

Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley was the subject of T.S. Eliot's 1916 PhD dissertation, although he failed to take the viva voce.[1]

Books and publications

  • Appearance and Reality, London : S. Sonnenschein ; New York : Macmillan , 1893. (1916 edition)
  • Essays on Truth and Reality, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914.
  • The Principles of Logic, London:Oxford University Press, 1922. (Volume 1)/(Volume 2)
  • Ethical Studies, 1876, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927, 1988.
  • Collected Essays, vols. 1-2, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935.
  • The Presuppositions Of Critical History, Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968.


  1. ^ Thomas Stearns Eliot, Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed November 7, 2009.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Francis Herbert Bradley (30 January 184618 September 1924) was a British idealist philosopher.



  • The world is the best of all possible worlds, and everything in it is a necessary evil.
    • Appearance and Reality, preface (1893)
  • Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.
    • Appearance and Reality, preface (1893)

Aphorisms (1930)

  • Eclecticism. Every truth is so true that any truth must be false.
    • No. 6
  • The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one’s own mind.
    • No. 8
  • True penitence condemns to silence. What a man is ready to recall he would be willing to repeat.
    • No. 10
  • There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us.
    • No. 20
  • It is by a wise economy of nature that those who suffer without change, and whom no one can help, become uninteresting. Yet so it may happen that those who need sympathy the most often attract it the least.
    • No. 22
  • We say that a girl with her doll anticipates the mother. It is more true, perhaps, that most mothers are still but children with playthings.
    • No. 23
  • Our live experiences, fixed in aphorisms, stiffen into cold epigrams. Our heart’s blood, as we write it, turns to mere dull ink.
    • No. 25
  • The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring. And that is not happiness.
    • No. 33
  • One said of suicide, “As long as one has brains one should not blow them out.” And another answered, “But when one has ceased to have them, too often one cannot.”
    • No. 48
  • The man who has ceased to fear has ceased to care.
    • No. 63
  • The deadliest foe to virtue would be complete self-knowledge.
    • No. 68
  • The force of the blow depends on the resistance. It is sometimes better not to struggle against temptation. Either fly or yield at once.
    • No. 75
  • There are those who so dislike the nude that they find something indecent in the naked truth.
    • No. 88
  • “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived.” It is a pity that this is still the only knowledge of their wives at which some men seem to arrive.
    • No. 94


  • Another occupation might have been better.
  • It is good to know what a man is, and also what the world takes him for. But you do not understand him until you have learnt how he understands himself.
  • The mood in which my book was conceived and executed, was in fact to some extent a passing one.

External links

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