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Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse.

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (September 8, 1864 - June 21, 1929) was a British liberal politician, one of the theorists of social liberalism. He worked as an academic and a journalist: he was the first professor of sociology appointed in a British university. He was born in St Ive, near Liskeard in Cornwall.[1] His sister Emily Hobhouse was a noted welfare campaigner.

Contents

Economic policy

Hobhouse was important in underpinning the turn-of-the-century 'New Liberal' movement of the Liberal party under leaders like Asquith and Lloyd George. He distinguished between property held 'for use' and property held 'for power'. He also theorized that property was acquired not only by individual effort but by societal organization (meaning, those who had property owed some of their success and thus had some obligation to society), providing theoretical justification for a level of redistribution provided by the new state pensions. It is important to note, however, that Hobhouse disliked Marxist socialism, describing his own position as "liberal socialism". Hobhouse occupies a particularly important place in the intellectual history of the Liberal Democrats because of this.

Civil liberty

His work also presents a positive vision of liberalism in which the purpose of liberty is to enable individuals to develop, not solely that freedom is good in itself. Hobhouse, by contrast, said that coercion should be avoided not because we have no regard for other peoples' well-being, but because coercion is ineffective at improving their lot.

Hobhouse rejected classical liberalism, noting the work of other liberals who had pointed out the various forms of coercion already existing in society apart from government. Therefore, he proposed that to promote liberty the government must control those factors already existing which worked against it.

Hobhouse held out hope that Liberals and what would now be called the social democrat tendency in the nascent Labour party could form a grand progressive coalition.

Foreign policy

Hobhouse was often disappointed that fellow collectivists in Britain at the time also tended to be Imperialists. Hobhouse opposed the Boer war and had reservations about the First World War. He was an Internationalist and disliked the pursuit of British national interests as practised by the governments of the day.

Works

  • Labour Movement (1893)
  • Theory of Knowledge: a contribution to some problems of logic and metaphysics (1896)
  • Mind in Evolution (1901)
  • Democracy and Reaction (1905)
  • Morals in Evolution: a study in comparative ethics (1906)
  • Liberalism (1911)
  • Social Evolution and Political Theory (1911)
  • Development and Purpose (1913)
  • The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples (1915)
  • The Metaphysical Theory of the State: a criticism (1918)
  • The Rational Good: a study in the logic of practice (1921)
  • The Elements of Social Justice (1922)
  • Social Development: its nature and conditions (1924)
  • Sociology and Philosophy: a centenary collection of essays and articles (1966)

See also

References

  1. ^ Freeden, Michael ‘Hobhouse, Leonard Trelawny (1864–1929)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 15 Oct 2007

External links

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