Aesthetics and Literature - Oxford Scholarship Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
British IdealismA History$

W. J. Mander

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559299.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 27 August 2016

Aesthetics and Literature

Aesthetics and Literature

Chapter:
(p.328) 9 Aesthetics and Literature
Source:
British Idealism
Author(s):

W. J. Mander (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559299.003.0009

Abstract and Keywords

That Idealism offered a comprehensive worldview, a universal scheme capable of application to any sphere upon which the human mind might latch, is a point which may be illustrated by considering its implications for the domain of aesthetics. The chapter examines Edward Caird's analysis of Kant's aesthetics, as well as Bosanquet's account of the evolution of aesthetic consciousness and his theory of aesthetic appreciation and production. The main discussion of the chapter looks at the importance of poetry to the Idealists, concentrating on its simultaneously supportive and opposing relations with philosophy. The occasion provides an opportunity to discuss the distinctive literary style of the Idealists and to defend it from the objections of those twentieth-century philosophers who disparaged it.

Keywords:   aesthetics, Kant, Edward Caird, Bosanquet, poetry, literary style, Henry Jones

One of the features which most distinguishes British Idealism from any philosophy today was that it offered a comprehensive weltanschauung, or worldview; a universal scheme capable of application to any sphere upon which the human mind might latch. This point may be illustrated by considering its implications for a field unlike any of those yet examined—the domain of aesthetics. British philosophy has never been drawn strongly to the subject of aesthetics, and it would be wrong to suggest that the Idealists stand out as any great exception to this tendency, but in the few cases where it did attract their attention, the characteristic traits of idealist thinking were as discernible in the results as they were in any other area. In this chapter I shall examine the aesthetic views of Edward Caird and Bernard Bosanquet, before considering in detail the important relation that obtained between Idealism and poetry.

9.1 Edward Caird

One of the most typical marks of idealist thinking is, as we have seen, the tendency to approach subjects historically, to identify current debate as but the latest phase in an ongoing sequence, and thus it is no surprise to find Edward Caird—the most historically minded of all the Idealists—interpreting aesthetic ideas in this fashion. Caird never made any systematic attempt to trace the development of aesthetic sensibility, but buried within his other writings, we are offered two interesting glimpses of his idealist interpretation of that process.

The first occurs as part of the discussion of Greek religion in his Evolution of Religion. He claims that Greek religion was a kind of half-way house between objective and subjective religion, between a religion in which attention is focused externally and God found in the material world, and one in which it is turned within and God discovered in ourselves. For although the Greeks still looked out into the external world to find deity, the object they lighted on was man—their God's were so thoroughly humanized that at times it seems only the accident of mortality which distinguished us from them—placing them on the very doorstep of (p.329) the conception of God as something manifested within human consciousness. This ambiguous threshold nature of Greek religion, thinks Caird, gave birth to and was reflected in its art.1

In ancient Greek consciousness we have the beginnings of a recognition that the sphere of reality cannot be restricted to just material nature, but while yet there is no explicit discovery of the spiritual as separated from and opposed to the natural, this insight finds no rational outlet in religion, philosophy, or science; its only means of expression is in art. Thus it was, argues Caird, revealing his fundamentally cognitive conception of the aesthetic, that true art first emerges in Greece; prior to that we find only mysterious symbolism, or the crude exaggeration of size and colour. The advance from natural to spiritual religion is expressed in ‘the way in which the poetic imagination gradually fills up the objects worshipped…with a higher spiritual meaning,’ he says, ‘even while they are still conceived as mere objective beings which take their place among other objects’.2 Most particularly, in implicit recognition of the fact that man himself is the key to understanding reality, the Greek artist breaks free from the bonds of convention which hitherto dictated artificial or symbolic representation of the natural to give centre stage to the expression of humanity, ‘to give to his figures that plastic individuality and moving grace which makes the human form the living expression of human thought and passion’.3 Religion and value, for Caird and for Idealism generally, are expressed through the developing spirit of humanity; Greek art as a celebration of humanity makes implicit recognition of this.

But, from an idealist point of view, the aesthetic activity of ancient Greece provides a lesson in the limitations as well as the potentialities of art, for Caird insists that this is still only a half-way stage. It seeks to express humanity as standing out against the rest of the natural world, but there is no sense yet of any kind of reality that transcends nature, of a realm that could never be captured but only hinted at or symbolized by the sensuous medium of art. The Greek artist ‘has only discovered that which lifts man above nature, but not yet that which lifts him above himself’.4 Art may be a vital step along the road that leads to the discovery of spirit, but it can never make that whole journey for us.

A second glimpse of the development of aesthetic understanding that Caird offers comes from his discussion of Kantian aesthetics in The Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Unsurprisingly, this too turns out to be a sort of transition point or half-way house for, on Caird's reading, whatever Kant takes himself to be saying, really he is well on the way to saying something more. Despite himself, he is already stating and moving onto the next stage. Thus we see here (as, indeed, we saw before) that it would be quite wrong to dismiss Caird's account as simply an exposition of Kant, for his modifications and clarifications amount in effect to a complete rewriting—even inverting—of Kant's position. What especially interests Caird is the way in which Kant's aesthetics, the product of his later thinking, seems to pull down or move beyond the dualisms which infect his earlier more basic position. We can draw out a variety of such threads.

(p.330) First of all Caird detects the earliest hints of a kind of thought able to transcend the great chasm between the phenomenal and the noumenal that so contaminates the Kantian design. That scheme sharply contrasts the pleasant, that which is external and heteronomous to self and which we desire, with the good, that which is internal and autonomous to self and which we will. And between these two there might seem to be no middle position; until we reflect upon the notion of beauty. Aesthetic satisfaction is satisfaction in what is external. In the appreciation of beauty, we delight not simply in our selves, but in the outside world. However, since our enjoyment is disinterested—we feel no desire to possess that which we value—the experience cannot be a heteronomous one, the taking on of some foreign or alien value. Instead, love of beauty must be a case of self-expression, self-realization: ‘We find our self realised in it, or we find in it an existence in which we can rest, because it is not alien to the consciousness of self.’5 But if that is so, it is not tied to our will in the same way as is moral fulfilment. It seems to be an object of satisfaction simultaneously external and internal.

We find the self realized in that which is not-self. But to begin to break down this division is to begin to break down one of Kant's most fundamental dualisms, for if what is referred to self is appearance and what is referred to not-self ultimate reality, then ‘what can this mean except that we find the noumenal in the phenomenal…?’6 Aesthetics may be a lower form than philosophy, but imagination comes before full insight, and it has much to teach us. In aesthetic sensibility we get a foretaste of the union of self and not-self. Art is like a mirror to ourselves, revealing to us at the deepest levels our unity with the wider whole in which we belong. Linked to the contrast between phenomena and nounmena (and just as axiomatic, it might seem, to the Kant of the first Critique) is the contrast between intuition and understanding, whose respective contributions, though they come together to produce experience, are radically other than each other—one individual and passive, the other universal and active. As we saw, Caird wholly rejects this contrast from the start but, he suggests, Kant's development of the notion of aesthetic experience is an indicator that he too came in time to see its flaws. Aesthetic appreciation for Kant is fundamentally singular or intuitive—we sense beauty we don't reason it out—and yet, despite the fact that it does not proceed by subsuming objects under concepts, it nonetheless claims universal a priori validity, that is, we may pronounce something beautiful without first making some sort of empirical check on whether others respond in the same way to it. In this understanding of aesthetic sensibility, suggests Caird, we find a coming apart of the apparent opposition between sense and understanding. It is unfortunate, he continues, that Kant disguises from himself the true significance of his position with talk of the ‘harmonious working’ of distinct faculties, for really what we have here is ‘union’; a ‘third something’ or ‘common root’, a ‘perceptive understanding’.7 Again aesthetics (p.331) serves as the fore-runner of a vital philosophical advance. Picking up its lead, idealism preaches the presence of the ideal at the heart of the real, a union which is the very lifeblood of art—essentially meaningful, but essentially embodied. It is the function of art and poetry, urges Caird, to serve in this way ‘the higher education of man, by teaching us to see the universal in the form of the particular’.8

On Kant's aesthetic scheme, although judgements of beauty are not produced in the understanding by subsumption under concepts, pleasure in the beautiful nonetheless results from a ‘free play’ of the sensory imagination with the understanding which is akin to but less rigid and constrained than subsumption, and hence a source of enjoyment. And here Caird finds another point in the system to challenge, for he regards this as too lowly a combination to have such an effect. Understanding merely brings distinct objects together under one heading, but there is no aesthetic joy in that. Aesthetic pleasure consists rather in ‘a consciousness that takes the individual object out of the limits of the context of experience, in which it is only a partial existence essentially related to other partial existences, and makes it into a complete whole by itself: an object conceived apart from its limitation or determination by other objects as a kind of microcosm or little world in itself.’9 But this is possible only insofar as understanding turns into pure reason, whose ideas point beyond possible experience to truths of the noumenal world that knowledge itself cannot reach. Kant's own system implicitly recognizes this, for he characterizes beauty as ‘purposiveness without purpose’ and while the highest category understanding can produce is that of law or necessary connection, it is to reason that we must turn for the idea of design or purpose.10

For Kant aesthetic experience is, albeit shared, thoroughly subjective. A function of the disinterested pleasure we feel in things, it is non-cognitive and gives no insight into the world. The purposiveness we find in beautiful things does not correspond to any objective purpose in rerum natura. Caird finds a measure of truth in this thought, insofar as the beautiful object does indeed present itself as self-contained and self-harmonious, unconnected to the world around it.11 But the point is not one that can take us very far, for strictly speaking, since all finite objects are dependent and essentially related to others around them, any such appearance must be judged on further reflection a limited and misleading one. Yet subjectivity and illusion cannot be the last word on aesthetic experience, for as we have already seen, Caird finds in it the beginnings of an insight with the power to overcome the dualisms that so beset Kant's thought. And sure enough, on Caird's reading, Kant's aesthetics hint too at an overcoming of the contrast between subjective appearance and objective truth. Beauty is truth. Caird argues that art must be regarded as ‘an anticipative grasp of a truth which is beyond ordinary knowledge, and of which philosophy is a continual but never completed (p.332) verification’.12 ‘Science is a fiction which looks like truth, while Art is a truth that looks like fiction’.13 Properly understood,

the Beautiful will be simply the revelation to sense and in a particular object, of that which is the inmost reality or meaning of things. It will be partly an illusion: for that meaning can be seen in its fullness only in the whole world as it exists for an intelligence which apprehends the universal as such and sees the particular through it.…But, on the other hand, in so far as the world is organic…the illusion will lift us to a higher level of truth than that science which regards the part merely as a part, or a finite thing externally related to other finite things.14

While there is legitimate doubt whether any of these ideas are really present in Kant's aesthetics, unsurprisingly, there is no doubt how close they bring us to Hegel's position.15 According to Hegel's philosophy, the third and final stage of Spirit's triadic path from Subjective to Objective to Absolute is itself characterized by the triad—art, religion, philosophy—implying that each of these three subjects express the same basic message, albeit in progressively superior fashion. The Idea that philosophy states in explicitly rational form, religion can only express in a lesser pictorial guise, while art cannot utter it at all, but simply presents it to us in concrete, material, sensory form. Hegel stresses the idealizing tendency of art; what is represented in art may be taken from nature, but it is the role of the artist to bring out its universal meaning. Although up to this point he has been kept in the background, it is with this explicitly Hegelian position that Caird concludes, arguing that art should be compared only with those other forms of consciousness which reveal the ultimate unity of man's life in all its differences, that is, with religion and philosophy.16

9.2 Bernard Bosanquet

9.2.1 The evolution of the aesthetic consciousness

The British Idealist who wrote most extensively about aesthetics was Bernard Bosanquet.17 Like Caird, his first approach to the subject was historical, but his efforts were much more detailed and systematic. In 1892 he published A History of Aesthetic, which runs to over five hundred pages and was the first such work ever to be written in English. Aesthetics, he tells us, means ‘the philosophy of the beautiful’ and so the history of aesthetics must be ‘the history of the philosophy of the beautiful’,18 but this could suggest something more narrow that Bosanquet intends for he offers not merely (p.333) a history of various philosophical systems, but an evolution of what he calls ‘the aesthetic consciousness’, the ‘sense of beauty, which is itself determined by conditions that lie deep in the life of successive ages’.19 Hard to pinpoint precisely, but at once intellectual and cultural, the idea is in many ways an aesthetic parallel of Edward Caird's similarly wide-ranging notion of ‘ethical life’.20

It will be no surprise to learn that the story Bosanquet tells is much influenced by Hegel. His first foray into aesthetics was in fact a translation in 1886 of the introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art,21 the concluding section of which is reproduced as an Appendix to his History, and in some respects he follows Hegel to the letter. For example, arguing that as Absolute Spirit takes us beyond either Subjective or Objective Spirit so the products of art are aesthetically superior to those of nature, Hegel took art rather than natural beauty as his primary concern.22 Endorsing this thought, Bosanquet argues that there is no beauty independent of human perception or imagination—it is not an intrinsic property like mass or shape—in which case it seems mistaken to focus on its everyday appearances to the ordinary consciousness rather than its more refined grasp by the educated mind. Just as the facts of physical nature do not give themselves up readily to the ordinary untrained observer, but require the penetrative insight and mathematical abstraction of the scientist to reveal them, so we should allow the artist to show us what is truly beautiful.23 This is not to say that nature cannot be beautiful, but where with a work of art we have at hand the artist's intention to guide us in appreciating it, with unmodified nature ‘the artist's work has to be done by the spectator himself’.24 It is thus no surprise that our appreciation of natural beauty is shaped by the art of great painters, for in a way, ‘natural beauty is that beauty in respect of which every man is his own artist’.25

Bosanquet is being equally Hegelian in reading the evolution of aesthetic concepts as a steady development from the abstract to the concrete,26 but the precise details of the story sketched, on the other hand, are his own. The ancients, he claims, understood beauty as rhythm, harmony, regularity, repose, symmetry—abstract relations of system and order that Bosanquet classifies under the general heading unity-in-variety. But the romantic sense of life and the craving for free expression that were hallmarks of the modern world destroyed the satisfaction which had once been found in such a view, and led to a more advanced sense of beauty as significance, expressiveness, the utterance of all that life contains, the conception of the characteristic.27 Yet, since the correction of any one-sided view must fall into its own one-sided-ness, the story (p.334) cannot end here but must point in the end towards a ‘reunion of content and expression’,28 something Bosanquet thought he detected in modern times, and which informs his own proposed definition of beauty as, ‘that which has characteristic or individual expressiveness for sense-perception or imagination, subject to the conditions of general or abstract expressiveness in the same medium’.29

To highlight some key steps in this story, we may begin with the ancient Greeks, of whose productions Bosanquet takes a somewhat less elevated view than Caird. At this stage in history, he claims, art was regarded as simply imitative or image-making. But gradually and repeatedly, he argues, for example in the aesthetic ideas of Plotinus, Erigena, Dante, and Aquinas, art was able to break free from the straight-jacket of imitation to arrive at a conception of itself as symbolic—the symbolism, at first, of spiritual things but then, later, in principle, of anything.30 The next crucial step was the romantic movement, which emphasized the expression of feeling and emotion in art, expanding the range of beauty beyond its earlier more limited scope to include material such as the ugly and the sublime; a key text here being Burke's On the Sublime and the Beautiful (1756). The problem thrown up by this transition from narrow, formal, and surface beauty to its symbolism for, and expression of, deeper realities was first voiced in general form by Kant whose problematic Bosanquet puts in the form of the question, ‘How can the sensuous and the ideal world be reconciled?’ or more specifically, ‘How can a pleasurable feeling partake of the character of reason?’31 Bosanquet thus locates the crucial moment in the development of aesthetics at the same juncture as did Caird only a few years before, but he is less generous to Kant than was Caird. To Bosanquet's mind, for all that it attempts to keep apart universally valid aesthetic judgement from merely individual judgement of taste, Kant's answer to this question remains too subjective,32 and it is Hegel's correction of this alone that provides ‘the greatest single step that has ever been made in aesthetic’.33 For to Hegel, beauty is the expression in sensuous form of the Idea—to a degree in nature, but even more so in art. It is the manifestation in concrete reality of ideas, functioning at its very heart like a word or symbol.34 Art reconciles form and content, reason and feeling, the ideal and the real. It reveals to us the spiritual world, or one had better say the spiritual character of this world for, if ‘it takes us into a new world’, it is not ‘another world’, but our own world (p.335) ‘twice-born’ revealed in its profoundest and truest self.35 As well as to Hegel's account, Bosanquet's final view is also close to theories that locate the distinctive nature of art in the expression and communication of feelings or emotions. The book concludes with a discussion of recent aesthetic advances in England, considering how Ruskin's emphasis on the beauty of nature and Morris' emphasis on workmanship sharpened this result, by bringing it back from the over-refined and formal to the more lowly and everyday.36

The story told here is, of course, the idealist one. But not only does the evolution of aesthetic ideas fit in with the general evolution of philosophical ideas, Bosanquet even argues that it was the former which gave birth to the latter. Aesthetics, he claims, was a crucial factor in the birth of idealism; reason enough, were there not others, why philosophers should not neglect it as a subject. According to Bosanquet, Kant's pioneering, but formal and abstract, recognition that ultimate reality consists in a kind of union of sense and reason, neither of which alone can claim to be truly real, was turned into Hegel's concrete self-manifesting Absolute Idea at once real and ideal, precisely through the aesthetic insights of Wincklemann, Goethe, Schiller, and Schelling; for it is to them that we owe the appreciation of art as a union of sense and thought and a revelation of whatever is highest in man, which insight Hegel uses as a model for his philosophical system in general and enshrines by giving art a place of honour in the culminating dialectical triad of Absolute Spirit.37

On the Hegelian scheme Absolute Spirit manifests itself progressively through the three stages of Art, Religion, and Philosophy. Art gives way to Religion which in turn gives way to Philosophy, as one and the same message expresses itself first materially, then pictorially, and only at the last in explicit rational form. Read as an historical thesis, one implication which might be drawn from this story—associated with Benedetto Croce—is that, at some point in the future, art will cease, to be taken over by a higher religious form of consciousness. Bosanquet vigorously rejects this interpretation. He objects that, ‘The phases of experience which reveal relative approximations to completeness are not successive in time nor vanishing in logic.…As factors implying the whole system and implied in it they are grades of the spirit in the fullest sense. The absolute is the whole which they constitute, and if any of them were eliminated would be the absolute no longer.’ The phrase, ‘the death of art’, he complains, nowhere occurs in Hegel; his term ‘Ausflösung’ indicates not the death but the dissolution of art, in the sense of resolving a contradiction or transforming its significance.38

(p.336) Bosanquet continued to think about aesthetics and, nearly a quarter of a century after his History, returned to the subject in a short book, Three Lectures on Aesthetics. There without worrying about ‘the historical order of things’ he tries to reconstruct the same conceptual development of aesthetics, this time with reference to the difficulties that it has to overcome.39 At its simplest the artistic impulse is one of mere expressiveness,40 but a whole new dimension enters in when its products and patterns are taken also as representations, for representation is non-aesthetic—its concern is with truth and knowledge. The problem is how the aesthetic can be extended into the representational,41 the representation serving the expression rather than the expression becoming subordinate to the knowledge.42 This is an opportunity as well as a challenge,43 for in moving beyond simple lines, shapes, and patterns, a whole new range of material becomes available to us. Of course, the exact balance struck varies from art to art, and to some extent these two always remain in competition and struggle,44 but Bosanquet concludes that a synthesis is possible,45 that our knowledge can aid our expressiveness, and even take on an expressiveness of its own.46

He also revisited his ideas about beauty and ugliness. In the History, the story Bosanquet tells is one of the gradual expansion of the beautiful, and at the last his view that beauty is expression combined with his Hegelian belief that all of reality is an expression result in the conclusion that there is no such thing as ugliness. By the time of Three Lectures, however, he came to see that this was too simplistic. Without denying that nature contains no true ugliness, he insists that not all beauty is ‘easy’ and that we must admit too a class of ‘difficult beauty’, accessible only to those with ‘aesthetic insight’,47 and including such things as the sublime, the tragic, the grotesque, the comic, objects marked by intricacy or internal tension, or themes from across the full range of human response—at least some of which we would be inclined in more colloquial or conventional terms to call ‘ugly’. These differ, however, from ‘true ugliness’. True ugliness is always a failure of expression, which never occurs. Although it may to some extent be found in the duplicitous expression of ‘insincere and affected art’48 or art with a decorative element inconsistent with its purpose,49 in the end there is no ‘invincible ugliness, such as no sane imagination can see as beautiful’,50 for all art expresses to some degree and thus has beauty—if only we can see it—while nature itself, since it does not express at all, is never ugly in this sense.51

(p.337) 9.2.2 Aesthetic appreciation and production

As well as discussing the content and evolution of our aesthetic sense—which things we find beautiful—Bosanquet also considers what might be regarded as the more psychological aspects of the question—just what is going on in our being when we appreciate or create beauty.

At its simplest aesthetic experience is ‘a pleasant feeling’,52 but of course there are many pleasant feelings, not all of them aesthetic, so further conditions on the state must be specified. Bosanquet lists five. First, it is stable. Unlike the pleasures of eating and drinking which are impermanent and diminish as they are satisfied, pleasure in beauty persists. Secondly, it is relevant or annexed to some particular object which evokes it. Thirdly, it is common, you can appeal to others to share it. It is not relative or just-a-matter-of-taste. ‘To like and dislike rightly is the goal of all culture worth the name,’ he suggests.53 Fourthly, it is contemplative. Unlike either practice or theory, where with hands or minds we work on something, in looking on the object we make no attempt to alter it. We simply take it as it is. Yet it should not be supposed that this is a wholly passive state, for a crucial element in that contemplation is the imagination as we explore in mind the possibilities it suggests.54 Fifthly, and all-importantly, it is a feeling which becomes ‘organized’, ‘plastic’, or ‘incarnate’.55 A feeling or idea in becoming expressed in material reality, in being given ‘imaginative shape’, is transformed. It must submit to the laws which govern physical objects,56 and in so doing becomes something deeper, more significant, and more universal. ‘A work of art, or any object regarded as beautiful, makes an appeal to feeling; which, as just such an appeal, must be immediate, although the feeling to which it appeals is moralized and spiritualised.’57

So much for the subject of experience, but what of the person ‘most to be considered in aesthetic,’58 the creative artist? The feeling involved in aesthetic production is, argues Bosanquet, the same as that involved in aesthetic appreciation, which is a weaker form of it—he takes ‘the spectator's attitude…to be merely a faint analogue of the creative rapture of the artist’.59 In this way we come very close to what is called the expressivist view of art, which regards aesthetic creativity as a process whereby a feeling on the part of the artist is externalized in some medium in order that it may then be recognized and absorbed by the person appreciating the resulting work.60 As Tolstoy put it, ‘Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.’61 Bosanquet allows that the aesthetic attitude may be described as ‘feeling expressed for expression's (p.338) sake’,62 although he insists that it is vital too that we distinguish between emotion ‘merely discharged’ and emotion ‘expressed’—between, for example, a jump for joy and a dance.63

But if allowed that Bosanquet's view is similar to expressivism, it must not be too closely identified with that position. In Croce, to take its key representative,64 what gets expressed in physical form is some wholly internal state. Bosanquet allows that art is more than just physical—‘Expression after all is an empty name, unless there is something to be expressed,’ he admits65—but he a strongly objects to any dualism, protesting that the idea cannot be separated from its physical expression. Art is a fusion of body and soul. He calls Croce's view, in which beauty can be wholly internal, a ‘false idealism’,66 insisting that ‘The point of the aesthetic attitude lies in the adequate fusion of body and soul, where the soul is a feeling, and the body its expression, without residue on either side.’67 For fear of taking away the intrinsic value to art, of turning it simply into a vehicle for the expression of something else, Croce rejects as inessential its external manifestation—indeed he doubts external reality altogether. But this in Bosanquet's eyes is a profound mistake, for without sacrificing its unity or primacy, ‘Art is in truth the perpetual union of body and spirit, and to refuse to study the body in which it clothes itself betrays a bias which indicates a one-sided philosophy.’68 At least one commentator has found more than simply aesthetic significance in such thoughts, describing Bosanquet's position here as a kind of synthesis of naturalism and idealism; beauty is the fusion of body and soul.69

For Bosanquet, embodiment is essential and the different arts are distinguished by their different media. This leads him to disagree with Hegel on the subject of poetry. Poetry, for Hegel, occupies a quite specific place in the pantheon of arts. The general forwards movement of ideas which culminates in the triad art–religion–philosophy, works also within art itself, which (Hegel argues) displays a progressive development of its ideas; beginning with its most concrete forms, such as architecture and sculpture, and progressing through the range as spirit gradually withdraws itself from the sensuous finally to become religion. To sketch the culminating triad of this movement, music is more inward and subjective than painting as time supersedes space, while poetry, synthesizing painting and music, constitutes the final idealization of the sensuous. In poetry the message becomes wholly internal; the sounded word becomes merely a symbol for the unsounded thought or mental picture. Bosanquet disagrees. He insists, (p.339) contra Hegel, that poetry has a proper medium which is sound.70 It is hard to disagree, and tempting to infer that Hegel probably read more poetry than he ever listened to.

It has already been noted how Bosanquet was as interested in aesthetic production as in consumption, and also as interested in craft as in fine arts. Putting these two ideas together encouraged him to advocate craft in schools as a way of developing our aesthetic and even our moral sense.71 In the process of trying to make beauty (he gives the example of learning to carve wood) we discover how to see it all around; ‘a certain change is produced in [the] mind; a new perception is awakened new interest is acquired. [A man] sees things to which he was blind before, and enjoys things to which he was insensible before.’72 Moreover, since aesthetic values are at root one with all others, this enlargement of sensibility is a form of training which is ultimately moral, which serves to ‘intensify the sense of the value of life,’ to heighten which ‘is to make life more worth living, and therefore more worth developing’.73 The debt to Ruskin and Morris so approved in his History stands out clearly here, as he argues that ‘The perception of beauty implies, above all things, an awakened mind.’74 Where we see beauty, can we be wholly blind to goodness?

9.3 Poetry

9.3.1 The affinity of poetry and philosophy

Edward Caird and Bernard Bosanquet were the only British Idealists who wrote or thought at any length on philosophical aesthetics.75 There was, however, one specific issue in aesthetics which captured the attention, and influenced the philosophy, of nearly all of them. This was the topic of poetry. There can be no understanding of British Idealist philosophy (in any of its varieties) without an appreciation of what kind of activity they thought they were undertaking; their own conception of philosophy. But there can be no understanding of their conception of philosophy without an appreciation of their view of its relation to poetry. For they saw these as correlated pursuits.76 Of course, there are two terms here and to say that they viewed them in (p.340) close relation tells us as much about their notion of poetry as it does about their conceptualization of philosophy, but the latter is especially worth stopping to note, for in an age where philosophers rarely regard themselves as partners with poets, examining this earlier view may help us challenge some of the more simple-minded criticisms that have been raised against their affinity.

Few philosophers today would define their work in relation to poetry,77 but to the Idealists this was a natural and important relation for, as they saw it, there exists a deep coincidence of aim between the ends pursued by these two endeavours. Both poetry and philosophy seek understanding; they are in the business of knowledge.78 They seek, moreover, the same kind of truth; to lay bare the most hidden, most profound and most universal principles at work behind both thought and reality. Notwithstanding their many and undeniable differences, at bottom, poets and philosophers are searchers and spokesmen for the same things.79 If we look to the sources for such a conception, then immediately we find ourselves in one of the areas where the label ‘Anglo-Hegelian’ is most readily applicable, for in no small degree the model at work here is that of Hegel's philosophy of art as it figures in his more general account of the development of consciousness (or Geist). For, as we have already seen, to Hegel, poetry is the highest phase of art, one step below religion; art and religion themselves forming the first two triads of the last stage of the Absolute Idea. It is the least pictorial of those pictorial forms whose aim is the same as philosophy itself. Even if (like Bosanquet) some thought poetry a mode of expression more embodied that Hegel had supposed, this basic account of its role and position was wholeheartedly taken up.

The claim that the British Idealists saw poetry as an expression of the very same kind of truth as philosophy, can be fleshed out in a little more detail, for there are several aspects to it. To begin with, the knowledge that they both seek to reveal is of a kind that lies hidden beneath the surface of things. There can perhaps be no more important distinction in idealist thought than that between appearance and reality; things we (p.341) think real (like matter, space, and time) turn out not to be and divisions we think absolute (like that between subject and object, between different subjects, between finite and infinite) turn out to be fluid. Common sense and ordinary language are no guide to ultimate reality. But in the same way there can be no everyday common-sense poetry—at least not among what they designate ‘the higher poetry’. Anything merely common or vulgar ‘by its presence at once turns poetry into prose’ says Caird. Though it may present to us immediate sensuous reality, poetry only does so in order to reveal deeper things, for ‘poetic truth does not lie on the surface’. Although, like the scientist, he may trade in empirical life, he is not taken in by it, and ‘the poet, like the philosopher, is in search of a deeper truth in things than that which is the object of science.’80 The poet may use the sensuous and the everyday, but only to allow us to see beyond it.

One of the most characteristic aspects of the Idealists' conception of philosophy is that it is universal in vision. For them philosophy has the widest scope of all subjects; it is ‘the attempt to comprehend the universe not simply piecemeal or by fragments but somehow as a whole.’81 As Ritchie puts it, ‘Philosophy is the endeavour to speak not merely the truth, but the whole truth.’82 Here it might seem different from poetry, for surely poetry presents what is specific and concrete. But on deeper reflection the matter is otherwise. For poetry never focuses on the individual object or event for its own sake, its presentation of the particular is only of value in so far as it allows us to recognize the universal in it. We value most the poems that show us universal truths, which is what we value most in philosophy.83 As we saw, this point was key in Caird's account of Kant's aesthetics.

If a slogan was wanted to capture the spirit of British Idealist philosophy, it would perhaps be hard to do better than ‘relative identity’ or ‘unity-in-diversity’. This (as we have already seen) is a ubiquitous, difficult, and multi-faceted concept. It suffices here simply to note that the Idealists saw this as the notion which poetry also expresses best. It unites the sensuous and the abstract; many particulars, parts, images, or feelings all held together by a single idea. It combines; always seeking life, organism, unity, and purpose, where science (by contrast) pursues analysis down into lifeless mechanism. It speaks to the whole person.84 Both philosophy and poetry aim, in Caird's words, to restore the ‘broken harmony’ of life. Reflecting upon the way in which Wordsworth brings a variety of ideas and images together, Caird argues that it is in precisely this synthetic role that he ‘makes poetry the counterpart and coadjutor of philosophy’.85

(p.342) Appearance and reality, universality, unity-in-diversity—the poet is saying the same thing as the philosopher; or, it might reasonably be objected, the same thing as the Idealist philosopher. And that is precisely the conclusion which they draw. The Idealists felt that they themselves were saying just what the preceding generation of poets had said. They saw the best poetry as giving an idealist message that coincided with their own. The chief figure to cite here is Henry Jones who argued (in A Faith that Enquires) that ‘Idealism received its inspiration from Wordsworth and Coleridge and their fellow-poets, no less than it received its specific problem from Kant’,86 while his Idealism as a Practical Creed has a chapter titled ‘The Idealism of Wordsworth and Browning’, which explains in detail precisely how poetry gave birth to philosophical idealism. But Jones was not alone in this view. Green too says that the reconstruction of moral ideas in England came, not from a new and sounder philosophy, but from the deeper views of life of the contemplative poets, especially Wordsworth.87 We find Mackenzie also in his 1890 Introduction to Social Philosophy arguing how recent poetry has taught idealism,88 while Bosanquet in his The Principle of Individuality and Value suggests that the conception of nature or the universe in space and time ‘interpreted as a living system’—that is, the Idealist view—is precisely ‘the meaning which lies at the root of all art and poetry’.89 And if we may move away from the strictly poetic to the literary for a moment the influence of Carlyle—whose radical idealist message is indissolubly linked to his radical expostulatory prose style—can hardly be over-stressed. Hilda Oakeley, a lesser Idealist whose work has been little read, sees no accident in all this anticipation. She speculates that the world-spirit needs must be filtered through national character and that perhaps it was inevitable that the spirit which on the continent produced philosophy, in Britain produced poetry; Wordsworth was Britain's Spinoza.90

9.3.2 Differences between Hegel and the Idealists

Before the British Idealists are simply written off as just reproducing Hegel's theory of poetry, two differences should be noted. Both concern relative orderings. In line with Hegel, many of the Idealists see the pairing of poetry and philosophy as joined by a third term, religion.91 They agree that all three are in the same business. But whereas Hegel sees the order: poetry, religion, philosophy, at times they seem to reverse the ranking of the first two. There is an important historical point here. By the late nineteenth century, religion in many people's eyes had failed. One aspect of this we see in figures like Green and the Caird brothers who, it might be argued, sought to (p.343) replace theology by philosophy, but in another aspect, says Henry Jones, poetry can be seen as taking over where theology has failed. In his Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher—note the title—he claims that,

In our day, almost above all others, we need the poets for…ethical and religious purposes. For the utterances of the dogmatic teacher of religion have been divested of much of their ancient authority, and the moral philosopher is often regarded either as a vendor of commonplaces or as the votary of a discredited science.…There are not a few educated Englishmen who find in the poets, and in the poets alone, the expression of their deepest convictions concerning the profoundest interests of life.92

Not only might art be higher than religion, it might even (some of the Idealists wondered) be higher than philosophy. Reflecting on the way in which poets have taught us to see the divine in nature, Mackenzie concludes his Introduction to Social Philosophy with the call for a new poetry that can teach us to see it in humanity and in society. Now this is something that idealist philosophy thinks itself to have already uncovered, but his point is that the philosopher, as such, cannot become either a prophet or a poet.93 He cannot make this discovery live for us. Seth Pringle-Pattison agrees, arguing that ‘both religion and the higher poetry—just because they give up the pretence of an impossible exactitude—carry us, I cannot doubt, nearer to the meaning of the world than the formulae of an abstract metaphysic’.94 Philosophy in its ruthless abstraction, cannot satisfy our full life.

Some later reflections of Bradley's may help us to understand this. For Bradley too certainly casts doubt on the supreme position Hegel gives to philosophy. ‘Philosophy aims at intellectual satisfaction,’ he says, ‘It seeks to gain possession of Reality, but only in an ideal form. And hence it is realization of but one side of our being.’95 And so it is with the rest of our various pursuits. Pleasure, morality, beauty, knowledge, love—none we may view as the one supreme good that sums and includes the rest. But poetry, it might be argued, insofar as it can hold together the aesthetic, the intellectual, the moral, and the spiritual is truer to the whole of life than many other more one-sided abstractions.

9.3.3 The old quarrel between poetry and philosophy

If turning to one historical forerunner allowed the British Idealists to see poetry and philosophy as important allies, not all the signs pointed in the same direction. For the classically educated scholars they were, they all knew that perhaps the greatest idealist of them all—Plato—had been of a quite different view. And it is interesting to note their responses to that, for nearly all of them—at one point or another—feel called explicitly to take on Plato's contrary position.

(p.344) To set the scene, in the first half of Book X of his Republic Plato argues that the poets will be banned from his ideal city, since ‘there is from old a quarrel between philosophy and poetry’.96 There are two bones of contention. First, poetry is an imitative art, but imitative art can only represent things as they look from the outside. Indeed, given the already difficult relation between forms and objects, it must be confessed that art supplies merely the copy of a copy. It is but a source of falsehood. Secondly, poetry encourages unworthy emotions. It appeals to feelings rather than reason, and encourages sentiments that otherwise we would be ashamed of and suppress. Art should only portray worthy things. Interestingly, Plato ends with a suggestion that poetry might be reprieved, if she can plead her case.

There is no single ‘British Idealist response to Plato’—his outburst of hostility to poetry evokes a variety of different reactions, although all are much embarrassed by the display. Not only does it contradict their own view, but it smacks of hypocrisy for, as Nettleship notes, ‘Plato himself is something very like a great poet.’97 At one extreme, Mackenzie suggests that Plato, in putting forward such an absurd view, is being deliberately ironic and humorous.98 And in a somewhat similar vein, Bosanquet suggests that, rather than condemning art for being merely imitative and superficial, we should read Plato as offering a reductio of such a view; something along the lines of ‘If poetry is just imitation then it is worthless and to be dismissed from the ideal society.’99 A.E. Taylor, by contrast, warns us off such easy answers insisting that Plato's is a serious proposal, and that ‘we shall not appreciate his position unless we understand quite clearly that he is in downright earnest’.100

The two Idealists who come most closely to accepting Plato here are Edward Caird and Henry Jones. Caird says that the old quarrel between poets and philosophers of which Plato speaks is as far from reconciliation as ever. Nor would we wish them wholly reconciled, for (despite their close relation to one another) each does best service by keeping within its own limits;101 a sentiment echoed by Jones who urges that ‘the feud of which Plato speaks, between these ‘two civilising inspirations’ will last through all time.102 Nettleship, by contrast, holds that talk of any real difference between them is spurious; ‘there is no reason why a poet should not really in his own way be animated by the same spirit as a philosopher,’ he insists, for ‘there is a point, as Wordsworth indicated, where philosophy and poetry, imagination and science, meet.…The greatest philosophers and the greatest poets have not as a rule felt themselves to be at enmity.’103 And between these two extremes of hostile difference and harmonious identity lies the perfect idealist synthesis of J.S. Mackenzie who argues that ‘just because poetry, religion, and philosophy, in their highest (p.345) expressions, are essentially aiming at the same thing in different ways, they are rather apt to come into conflict with one another.’104 And perhaps he has a point, for it is true that siblings or co-religionists quarrel more frequently and fiercely than complete strangers.

James Seth latches on to the fact that Plato dismisses from his state the poets, not poetry itself, and that the exclusion is not necessarily final; a point also stressed by Bernard Bosanquet, who says that Plato's suggestion of a possible reprieve should not be dismissed as mere irony.105 There are perhaps two lines of thought here. One strictly localizes Plato's focus here and sees him as attacking the literature of his day—which must have been at a very low ebb, suggests Seth—and the superstitious regard in which it was held. Several of the Idealists take this route, for of course it leaves us in a position from where we could—albeit with a certain aesthetic snobbery—continue to endorse the presence of art in society. Nettleship (for example) thinks that in their lower phases poetry and philosophy do indeed strike one another as antagonistic, and ventures that we all recognize a certain shame in the enjoyment we get from reading novels.106 Again it is A.E. Taylor who calls the lie to this sort of response. ‘We are only throwing dust in our own eyes if we suppose that Socrates wants merely to repress the cheap music-hall and the garish melodrama,’ he says. By contrast, ‘he is seriously proposing to censure just what we consider to be the imperishable contribution of Athens to the art and literature of the world’.107

The second, and perhaps more typically Idealist line of response, comes from Bosanquet who sees Plato's position as an early, and perhaps, inevitable step in the growth of aesthetic understanding. The Greeks were bound to an imitative conception of art, according to which representation of immoral content can only ‘double the examples of immorality’,108 and there is no doubt that this conception led to a subordination of art to moral purposes that much encumbered Plato; and Aristotle too.109 But it is axiomatic to idealism that we do not reach truth in one bound; we must start with first steps and mistaken ones. Insofar as he offers criticisms that allow us to move beyond this first simplistic conception, and insofar as his own philosophy itself expresses a belief in Ideas behind, and of greater reality than, their appearances, Plato points us forward to the truth.110 He may have been quite wrong to suppose that poetry is simply the imitation of visible appearances, for in truth it seeks to uncover the hidden structure of reality itself. But his mistake put us on the right path, making it (p.346) almost a step in the right direction. In classic idealist style, those who in the past opposed me, thereby in fact spurring me on, may now be credited as my helpers.

9.3.4 Literary style and the new philosophy

It might perhaps be complained that everything which has been said so far has been at the meta-level; abstract discussions about the nature of poetry and philosophy, but the crucial thing to note is that these views had a real effect on the way the Idealists worked and wrote about philosophy. No one who has read British Idealist philosophy can have failed to observe the distinctive literary character of their efforts.

There are perhaps two things to note here. First, we have their frequent quotation of poetry. Flick through any book, or look in the index, and you find constant appeal to poetry. We should add here also their frequent use of biblical language (Jones and Caird in particular) and their regular citation of writers like Carlyle. And all this is not simply decoration, but crucial to the argument. Poetry is used to make points, not simply to illustrate them. Secondly, there is the very way in which they write themselves, the highly ‘poetical’ and literary nature of their own language. Of the many possible examples, every reader will have their favourites, but by way of illustration one might instance, for example, the metaphors of Bradley's ‘bloodless categories’, Pringle-Pattison's ‘impervious’ self, or Jones' ‘gardener’ state, or one might point to the paradoxes of John Caird's assertion that ‘to be ourselves, we must be more than ourselves’ or Joachim's claim that as no roads in themselves lead us to lose our way, so no judgements themselves are in error.111 Connected to this they were all very expansive writers, often taking pages to gradually make and develop what we might call a single point. Ideas are first introduced, then repeated, expanded, and developed over many paragraphs, the writers more concerned to capture the cast of mind at work behind the thought or theory that offer any neat simple formulation of the idea itself.

Many of the Idealists produced work of great literary merit; still a delight to read. But, of course, not everyone was impressed. As the new century grew, a rival philosophy emerged with a new style of writing: clear, precise, simple, and short. Using either ordinary language or precisely defined technical terms it was modelled on the language of mathematical and empirical science. It was suggested in Chapter 1 that the Idealists contributed towards the professionalization of philosophy, distinguishing it from other disciplines. But if so, in time they themselves began to look ‘amateur’ as the discipline became professionalized in an even narrower ‘specialist’ sense. No longer a subject just anyone could write or read, it became (like science) the select preserve only of a ‘trained’ few.112 The short science-style article replaced the multi-volume Gifford-lecture-style book. Not surprisingly the new writers took a dim view of their (p.347) predecessors. At the extreme, of course, the logical positivists regarded their writing as literally nonsense. Ayer in his Language, Truth and Logic notoriously attacks a sentence ‘taken at random’ from Bradley's Appearance and Reality, while Carnap regarded metaphysics as no more than poetry; a comment which led Ayer famously to gibe that the utterances of many philosophers should have been published in the London Mercury rather than in Mind.113 But even if not nonsense, a great many of the new generation of analytic philosophers regarded the Idealists' writing as uneasy, loose, woolly, and rhetorical. And these are views that persist to this day.

We may let Geoffrey Warnock speak for his generation. ‘It is not surprising’ he allows ‘that a philosophy of this variety—so ambitious, so deliberately un-ordinary, so determinedly grave—should have found expression in a characteristic manner of writing’, but a modern philosopher, he continues, would find their style ‘almost unbearable’. Bradley, he admits, was capable of ‘impressive rhetoric, and conveys in his extraordinary sentences a sense of explosive energy’. On the other hand, ‘Bosanquet's manner was less idiosyncratic but more literary, and closer to bombast. He wrote sometimes with an air of vague seriousness, in which the serious intent was almost completely muffled by the vagueness. And in the writings of the lesser men solemnity and unclarity seem to rise not seldom to the pitch of actual fraud.’ Even Bradley's arguments, Warnock suggests, depended ‘mainly upon the persuasive force and artifice of their presentation’, such that ‘to strip off the highly coloured rhetorical dress would be to harm substantially the doctrine itself, or even to find that one arrived, as with an onion, at nothing in the end’.114

Warnock's comments are as deeply unfair as they are mistaken. As the analytic philosophers came forwards with a changed conception of philosophy so they advanced a new literary style in which to present it; clarity and precision became the order of the day. As Candlish has put it ‘even if idealism's subject matter is timeless, its style quickly became hopelessly dated’.115 But it was disingenuous of the new philosophers then to turn back upon the Idealists and berate them for their manner of writing for, in truth, the older philosophers' style was just as well fitted to their conception of philosophy. As T.S. Eliot said of Bradley's prose, it was ‘for his purposes…a perfect style’.116 Both the Idealists and the new analytic philosophers shared a belief that one's conception of the proper nature and task of philosophy and one's conception of its (p.348) proper method or literary style were two things that went hand in hand, and to attack the second was but a shabby and ineffective way to disagree with the first. A consideration of some of the key objections, and the underlying differences between their philosophical approaches, will make this clear.

To begin with it was objected that their writing was just too broad and general. With so wide a compass, it was thought, if one managed to say anything true at all, it could only be the thinnest of platitudes. It was believed that the lesson of the verification principle was that to work, words need to be tied down to precisely defined empirical applications.

But the Idealists did not write the way they did by accident. In contrast to the analytic philosopher's limited horizons, the correct philosophical view for them was the global view; philosophy being precisely the attempt to look at the universe, if not as a whole, then from the widest angle possible. To take an artistic analogy, the Idealists were trying to paint vast tableaux while their analytic cousins preferred to work on small canvases. And hence they chose literary tools to match.

These were outlooks distinguished by temperament—with a pessimistic assessment of our ability, the analytic ambition is modest and its vision small—but also by an underlying theory of language. For the notion that the more general your terms the less they manage to say is the widely-held view that intention varies in inverse proportion to extension. Almost an analytic dogma, this was (as we have already seen) a view openly dismissed by figures such as Bradley and Bosanquet as either false or trivial. Universality for them was not abstract, but concrete, and on their logic the wider your reach, the more you manage to say.

A second closely connected, but slightly different, objection is that the Idealists' writing was slippery. Their arguments moved rapidly across seemingly diverse issues, failing to respect distinctions and reaching grand conclusions on what can seem spurious identities, or vague hunches as to ‘the general drift of things’. Instead of inching forwards by slow small steps, they move too fast and jump too far, weaving arguments that are suggestive but hard to pin down. There is, for example, a splendid passage in which Haldane simply lumps together Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Hume as propounding a single idealist message!117 Any modern philosopher would find it hard not to protest, pointing out many significant and fundamental differences between these figures, but all too often idealism seems almost blind to such details, shrugging them off as besides the point. ‘There is far less discrepancy amongst the conclusions of the philosophers themselves than at first appears,’ Jones tells us, ‘for it is the way of philosophers, as it is of theologians and politicians, to make much of their differences.’118

There is no need to deny the fluidity of idealist thought and writing, but again the difference of style reflects a deeper difference in the very conception of what it is to do (p.349) philosophy. The analytic philosophers advocated a piecemeal approach; looking at concepts, problems, and arguments separately one by one. By contrast, the Idealists were holistic; they sought always to connect disparate ideas, to find the points of similarity, to reach out from their starting point to other fields. Like the poet who illuminates by bringing together incongruent and unusual images that help us see what familiarity has blinded us to, the philosopher seeks always to broaden our vision and show how all truth connects together in one integrated and comprehensive system. Scepticism certainly has its place and we should not just buy any system, but, urged Seth Pringle-Pattison, ‘It is important to remember that despair of system is despair of philosophy, for philosophy just is system.’119

A third common charge against their writing is vagueness and imprecision. The analytic philosophers set immense store by clarity and exactness, bemoaning the nebulous and indistinct style of their idealist predecessors. G.E. Moore was particularly pained and exasperated by their lack of precision, and many of his papers from the early years of the century revolve around his uncovering of multiple ambiguities in stock idealists terms.120

But once again what is presented as infelicity of style is in fact the result of deep and considered philosophical opinion, in this case about the very nature of meaning itself. For few of the Idealists believed that words had precise meanings. Rather they should be thought of as containing great depths and levels of sense and implication; riches that we might find in them, or even that they might unfold for us, but which certainly stretch out of sight beyond the horizon of our immediate vision. Concepts are not self-contained; rather, as Nettleship puts it, ‘every one of my ideas is in a context which it colours and by which it is coloured’.121 ‘Definitions are dangerous tools to handle,’ says Jones, making a similar point, ‘They are never entirely or permanently true of the facts of mind or of the world of spirit, for these do not have fixed boundaries: they do not shut out one another, and none of them is static or can bear being “fastened down”.’122 The notion that there might be such a thing as the analysis of a term struck them as crude; any non-trivial expression should be expected to contain many levels of analysis passing one into another and passing in the end even beyond the term itself. Bradley in particular explains how any term or judgement cuts off a content from a wider (p.350) presented whole, by which it is then conditioned, and to which it inevitably points for its complete significance. But the point was shared by all.

Calling up a new accusation, it was objected that the Idealists had a very odd way of speaking, that they used words in mysterious ways. For the new philosophy, by contrast, reality was something to be described in ordinary language; the watchword was ‘common sense’.123 For example, Moore has immense difficulty understanding what Bradley means when he says that time is unreal because he is using words in the ‘wrong’ way. He does not mean (and Moore comes over as quite the authoritarian here) ‘what he ought to mean—just what anyone else would mean if he said that Time was unreal, and what any ordinary person would understand to be meant, if he heard those words’; rather he is using words ‘in some highly unusual and special sense’.124

But this charge is every bit as superficial as the others. The Idealists did not use the kind of ordinary language that Moore thought they should, not out of some perverse desire to confuse, but because they simply did not believe that reality could ever be accessed in that way. In the first place ordinary language comes from ordinary experience and, as has already been noted, for Idealists, reality was something hidden, something quite other than ordinary experience. But the point goes deeper than that, for they held that reality was not simply beyond experience, but also beyond language and thought itself. Their philosophy precludes literalism. This is an important point and worth explaining more fully via a couple of illustrative figures. First we can take T.H. Green. Green is basically a Kantian—his eternal consciousness is understood as that which supplies the categories by which we unify and structure our experience, as that which makes it possible. But just like Kant before him, this puts Green in an impossible dilemma, for if what he says is true then he cannot say it. The problem is that the concepts and structures apply only within experience, and cannot legitimately be used outside or beyond it, not even to express the conditions which make possible that experience itself. What makes thought possible cannot itself be thought.125 We find a similar problem in F.H. Bradley. The relational mode of thought is contradictory and points beyond itself. But all thinking is inevitably relational, and so we must conclude that it too points beyond itself—thought's ‘happy suicide’—to an Absolute reality in some fashion felt but never said.126 Not everyone perhaps was quite as pessimistic on this score as Green and Bradley, but even figures like Caird and Bosanquet, who would be reluctant to place any final limit on the grasp of reason in its most perfect form, would certainly allow that reality outstrips our current capacity to grasp it in thought or language.

(p.351) Words are thus limited and philosophy is working at the verge of meaning, at the very edge of language. In this respect it is much like poetry, for in a poem too words are altered from their commonplace meaning. This is why the Idealists make such frequent use of poetry; the poet can take us beyond the limits of abstract terminology and help us appreciate things which cannot be said literally. But not only can the poet be philosophical, the true philosopher must also be (in some measure) a poet,127 and so the same point explains why the Idealists themselves write so ‘poetically’. Their exploitation of the power of words to suggest as well as to describe is quite deliberate. ‘Philosophy cannot dispense with metaphor,’ argued Ritchie, the only requirement is that it do so in as full consciousness as possible, for ‘it is metaphors which escape notice that are dangerous’.128

In this context we should also note here Bradley's Aphorisms which, though privately printed at the Clarendon Press after his death in 1930 according to his wishes, stem from the period around Appearance and Reality.129 Sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, with an eye to the broader themes of life, these have been ignored by philosophers as just literature. But they are more than just idle witticisms. He describes them as ‘attempt[s] to fix my passing moods’,130 and many express in stark literary form some of Bradley's philosophical ideas—including the one lifted to appear in the Preface to Appearance and Reality itself: ‘Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.’131 Where a page of text is dead, an aphorism may offer a living glimpse. He says, ‘An aphorism is true where it has fixed the impression of a genuine experience.’132 But tragically the difference is only one of degree, since in the end, of course, for Bradley no idea can ever really capture reality and ‘Our live experiences, fixed in aphorisms stiffen into cold epigram. Our heart's blood, as we write with it, turns to mere dull ink.’133

It is such picturesque use of language, of course, that leads the Idealists to be accused of rhetoric, and it has been thought by many since that their writing is really too coloured and expressive for serious philosophy. At times ponderous and solemn, at times preachy and moralizing, at times Sunday-sermon inspiring, its tone off-put a great many Edwardian readers. C.D. Broad, for example, contemptuously dismisses Green as offering nothing but a ‘comforting aroma of ethical “uplift”’ that turned undergraduates into prigs rather than philosophers.134 Nor was this always just a matter (p.352) of tone, for with the writing of lay sermons (employed by Green and both Caird brothers) it became a matter of explicit literary form.135

The underlying suggestion is that there is something disreputable and unprofessional about such ways of writing. For the analytic school took science as their model; they aimed to be wholly rational and expunge all value and emotion from their discourse. Such things had no place in physics and they had no place in philosophy either. But while philosophers who model themselves on science may feel embarrassed by expressive language, the Idealists took no such view of philosophy, finding appeal to emotional, moral, and spiritual values wholly in order. For them these were the highest levels of mind and so it was entirely appropriate that they should be present alongside the highest levels of reasoning. The new intellectual perspective held that such values had a rightful place only in art and not in philosophy, but for the Idealists the contrast between philosophy and art was not that between reason and emotion, but rather that between reason and imagination—the sensory. In passing from art to philosophy we leave behind what is sensual or pictorial, but not what is moral, emotional, or spiritual.

We come lastly to perhaps the most serious objection of all, which is that in the writings of the British Idealists, poetry, metaphor, and literary art usurp the place of argument. Take away the rhetoric, says Warnock, and there is nothing left. This is perhaps a more awkward objection than the others for, often enough, this is the difference they themselves stress between philosophy and poetry. Poetry they say is direct and intuitive, whereas philosophy is mediate and argumentative. That is almost, one might say, what is so good about it; its cuts out all the contentious wrangling!136 But even here the situation is more complex than it first appears, as can be seen if we look at the work of Henry Jones on Robert Browning.

9.3.5 Jones on Browning and the role of argument

The case of Browning is interesting. In the decades after his death in 1889 he was held up as a great thinker and philosopher. The contemporary literature abounds with such titles as ‘Robert Browning as a Religious Poet’, ‘Browning's Philosophy’, ‘Browning's Theism’, ‘Robert Browning as Religious Teacher’, ‘The Poetry and Philosophy of Browning’, ‘Robert Browning; Poet and Philosopher’.137 Of course, times changed (p.353) and that reputation was reversed and in modern times his standing as a serious thinker is almost completely sunk.

In the middle of this story, in 1891, we find Henry Jones' book, Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher. From its title we might think this is just another Browning-as-philosopher book, but in fact the case is more complex. Jones does think Browning a voice of great philosophical significance, a spokesman for what might be called ‘optimistic idealism’. But, he insists, when we do him the honour of treating him as a philosopher, he falls far short of the mark. For in truth he was a poor philosopher, subscribing to a kind of scepticism about human cognitive powers, which Jones considers destructive of his optimism and his idealism alike. There was much in this criticism and so, paradoxically for all his high opinion of Browning's philosophical message, Jones became a key early figure in the subsequent eclipse of the poet's reputation as a thinker.

However, as Jones developed, his understanding of the difference between Browning's poetical message and his philosophical skills softened, and he saw a rapprochement. In the book he presents the matter as one of a direct clash of head vs. heart, reason vs. intuition, but in time he began to appreciate that reason is a more holistic thing. It involves our entire conception of the world as human beings. In this sense Jones' conception of the proper method of philosophy and poetry came closer into line. A key text here is his 1905 lecture on The Immortality of the Soul in the Poems of Tennyson and Browning.

With liberal use of quotation he makes the case that both Browning and Tennyson believe in the immortality of the soul, and that both take themselves to do so as a matter, not of argument, but intuition. But in fact, claims Jones, they are wrong about themselves and they stand on stronger ground than they know. Far from ousting reason they have employed it fully. They seem simply to rest on strong convictions which are deeply felt, and we might suppose the strength of conviction arises from the depth of feeling. But in truth matters are reversed. The power of feeling comes from the strength of the beliefs, and their strength ‘from the fact that they have been made one with our rational life by a thousand judgments and practical experiences. The feeling of their vital strength is the result of a satisfied intelligence, and the intelligence is satisfied only when experience seems to be a congruous whole.’ What tells the poet that what he has to say is true? His heart, the romantic may reply. And there is no need for us to disagree says Jones, for ‘what is “the heart” in such a context, except the whole rational experience of the man chastened and purified and enlightened by observation up and down the broad order of things and the ways of men, and made wise by much reflection?’138 Only on that assumption can any purpose, patterns, meaning or value be found in life. The issue, we must remember, is not the validity of any such case, but simply the fact that it is a case, that what we are presented with here is indeed an (p.354) argument, in the sense of ‘an hypothesis making sense of life and experience as a whole’.

Of course we need not say that all feeling is like this, that every feeling is the assimilated argument of experience, for as Edward Caird puts it, ‘Whether the phrase “I feel it” means little or much, depends on the individual who utters it. It may be the concentrated expression of a long life of culture and discipline, or it may be the loud but empty voice of untrained passion and prejudice.’139 But that poetry at its best is no mere assertion is something Caird would certainly endorse. In his essay on Goethe he argues that, although poetry neither describes a world exhausted by, nor itself falls under, the dead hand of necessitating laws of nature, it should certainly not be supposed that ‘any great poetic creation is produced by an imagination which merely follows its own dreams and does not bend to any objective law’.140 Nettleship makes the same point. It may be hard to draw any exact line between individual caprice and the sense of rightness or necessary connection that makes for great art, but of a line, note or word in the latter we may ask, just as we do of a step in reasoning, ‘Is it exactly right?’141 Poetry is subject to its own kind of law; caught by a deeper metaphysical necessity; the spirit of truth speaks through the poet and makes him write what he does. There is an inevitability and unavoidability in his words.

The point is more completely grasped if we look to the idealist theory of inference itself, as developed most fully by Bradley and Bosanquet. Philosophy may be abstract but in its search for truth it is drawn back to the concrete and the individual—‘Truth lies not in abstraction but in concretion,’ says Caird.142 What holds of judgement and truth holds equally of inference and validity; the final criterion of the validity of inference lies not in pre-determined abstract formal schema, but in the full complexity of individual reality—‘system’ in Bosanquet's terms, ‘the ideal self-development of an object’ in Bradley's.143 Our attention is drawn here to something very important about the Idealists' notion of reason. Again and again they assert the centrality of reason, upholding that ‘the real is the rational’. But what on the idealist scheme is ‘reason’? It has already been noted that they have a broad, non-formal conception of logic but it should be recognized that their ‘use’ of reason is really even wider than that. It signifies something like ‘the proper working of the whole person’. In place of the Humean notion of ‘reason’ as the deduction of sure conclusions from indubitable premises, they go back to an older tradition that embraces the full employment of all our intellectual powers. How much does this include? Clearly coherence and connectedness are vital—it is about building a picture of reality as a whole. But equally important are articulatedness and the ability to express things in words—which is why brute (p.355) intuitions do not count as part of reason and why, also, in the right context, emotion or imagination may properly contribute to it. But the scope of the term may be broadened out even further than this, for ‘reason’ takes in more than simply the workings of any one individual mind. At its most powerful it is something collective, social, and historical. Drawing on Hegel's idea of the ‘cunning of reason’, Caird makes much of the way in which an intellectual evolution larger than any one of us may steer our individual thinking in one direction or another, while Ritchie draws attention to the fact that this process in which we ourselves are unaware of the collective intellectual development driving our ideas may to us seem the very opposite of deliberation. ‘The Universal Reason works unconsciously, and in some cases immediately. That is inspiration.’144 Such often enough is the reason of the poet.

Notes:

(1) Evolution of Religion, I:271.

(2) Evolution of Religion, I:287.

(3) Evolution of Religion, I:273.

(4) Evolution of Religion, I:274.

(5) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:455.

(6) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:455.

(7) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:458.

(8) Evolution of Religion, I:234.

(9) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:459.

(10) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:461.

(11) Bosanquet also suggests that works of art may be in this way self-contained; ‘infinite’ in the Hegelian sense of that term (‘On the True Conception of Another World’, xxvi).

(12) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:466.

(13) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:466.

(14) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:469–70.

(15) Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art. For more detail on Hegel's theory of art see Desmond, Art and the Absolute.

(16) Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, II:476.

(17) For a general discussion of Bosanquet's aesthetics see Lang, ‘Bosanquet's Aesthetic: A History and Philosophy of the Symbol’.

(18) History of Aesthetic, 1.

(19) History of Aesthetic, xii.

(20) See above Chapter 6.3.1.

(21) His own introduction to this volume, the essay ‘On the True Conception of Another World’ was itself an important early discussion of Hegel, that we have already noted on several occasions above.

(22) Introduction to Hegel's Aesthetik or Philosophy of Fine Art, 38–9, 90–3.

(23) History of Aesthetic, 3.

(24) ‘The Part Played by Aesthetic in the Development of Modern Philosophy’, 382.

(25) ‘The Part Played by Aesthetic in the Development of Modern Philosophy’, 383.

(26) History of Aesthetic, 8.

(27) History of Aesthetic, 4–5.

(28) History of Aesthetic, title to ch.XV.

(29) History of Aesthetic, 5.

(30) History of Aesthetic, 4, 112, 114, 131, 143, 148, 158. ‘Imitation is only a rule of art, and prima facie can make nothing beautiful which is not given as beautiful. Symbolism is a mode of interpretation; and…has the one advantage of absolute universality. If all that has a meaning may be beautiful, then there is nothing in which we may not chance to detect an element of beauty’ (History of Aesthetic, 143).

(31) History of Aesthetic, 173, 187.

(32) History of Aesthetic, 266.

(33) History of Aesthetic, 342.

(34) ‘That the world of the mind, or the world above sense, exists as an actual and organized whole, is a truth most easily realized in the study of the beautiful. And to grasp this principle as Hegel applies it is nothing less than to acquire a new contact with spiritual life’ (‘On the True Conception of Another World’, xvi).

(35) ‘Life and Philosophy’, 56. In this late essay (1924) we see the very same ideas as in the early Hegel essay ‘On the True Conception of another World’ (1886).

(36) History of Aesthetic, ch. XV. See also ‘Individual and Social Reform’, 30–1.

(37) ‘The Part Played by Aesthetic in the Development of Modern Philosophy’. See also History of Aesthetic, 441; Bernard Bosanquet and his Friends, 259.

(38) ‘Croce's Aesthetic’, 430–1. See also Iiritano, ‘Death or Dissolution? Croce and Bosanquet on the Auflösung der Kunst’. That the stages of Hegelian dialectic are co-existent rather than sequential was also much emphasized by Edward Caird (Evolution of Religion, I:77) though Bosanquet here refers back to Hegel himself (Hegel's Logic, §237).

(39) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 38.

(40) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 40.

(41) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 44.

(42) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 46.

(43) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 43, 52.

(44) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 56.

(45) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 57.

(46) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 47.

(47) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 85.

(48) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 106.

(49) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 108.

(50) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 97.

(51) See J.S. Mackenzie, Ultimate Values, 142; Jacquette, ‘Bosanquet's Concept of Difficult Beauty’, 79–88; Raters, ‘Unbeautiful Beauty in Hegel and Bosanquet’, 162–76.

(52) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 3.

(53) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 5.

(54) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 26ff.

(55) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 7.

(56) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 8.

(57) Logic, II:233–4.

(58) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 30.

(59) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 35.

(60) See Apata, ‘Feeling and Emotion in Bosanquet's Aesthetics’, 177–96.

(61) What is Art?, 50.

(62) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 37.

(63) ‘On the Nature of Aesthetic Emotion’, 395–6.

(64) The view is also associated with R.G. Collingwood.

(65) ‘Croce's Aesthetic’, 414.

(66) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 73.

(67) Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 75; also v–vi, 7.

(68) ‘Croce's Aesthetic’, 415.

(69) MacEwen, ‘Bosanquet, Santayana, and Aesthetics’, 127–44.

(70) History of Aesthetic, 460–62; Three Lectures on Aesthetic, 64–7.

(71) See Trott, ‘Bosanquet, Aesthetics, and Education: Warding Off Stupidity with Art’, 113–26; Vincent, ‘Bosanquet and Social Aesthetics’, 54–62.

(72) ‘Individual and Social Reform’, 26.

(73) ‘Artistic Handwork in Education’, 78.

(74) ‘The Home Arts and Industries Association: Aims and Objects’, 135–7. See also Vincent, ‘Bosanquet and Social Aesthetics’, 54–62.

(75) There are two possible exceptions to this statement. J.A. Smith wrote on aesthetics, but most his work remained unpublished. R.G. Collingwood published on the subject (Outlines of a Philosophy of Art, The Principles of Art) but although a figure continuous with aspects of the idealist tradition, his thought differed in many respects from theirs, and this much later body of work is not helpfully understood in the same framework.

(76) There are three possible objections to this claim, all fair, to a degree. (i) Everybody took poetry seriously at that time. Victorian society held poetry in an esteem we no longer do today, quoting it in all types of writing. This is true, however the Idealists took that interest to new heights. (ii) The British Idealists were not the only intellectuals who believed there was a close relation between poetry and philosophy; Coleridge, Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, and Leslie Stephen to name but four all saw important connections. This also is true, but again it may be argued that the Idealists explored this link more thoroughly than others. (iii) Not all the Idealists give the same elevated significance to poetry. This too can be admitted. Although all the Idealists display great knowledge of and love for poetry, it was especially Edward Caird, and his followers, Jones, Mackenzie, Pringle-Pattison, and Haldane who discuss it in detail. Green, McTaggart, and Muirhead, on the other hand, seem relatively immune to its charms.

(77) I mean, of course, in the Anglo-Saxon world where, as it has recently been put, the barricades between the two are vigilantly maintained. (Eagleton, The Meaning of Life, 5).

(78) From such a perspective the career of A.C. Bradley, who taught both philosophy and literature, loses some of the strangeness with which modern academics would regard it. For further detail see below p.415.

(79) ‘The poet, like the philosopher, is a seeker for truth, and we may even say for the same kind of truth’ (Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 55); ‘In the end philosophy is at one with poetry.…Their goal is the same.’ (Jones, Idealism as a Practical Creed, 10); ‘The higher kinds of poetry…may, then, be said to aim at the same kind of insight as that which philosophy seeks to gain’ (Mackenzie, Elements of Constructive Philosophy, 16); ‘the highest truth of philosophy is a rational and self-conscious poetry, as the highest poetry may be described as an irrational and unconscious philosophy’ (Caird, ‘Plato and the Other Companions of Socrates’, 352).

(80) Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 58, 59.

(81) Bradley, Appearance and Reality, 1.

(82) Ritchie, ‘What is Reality?’ 94.

(83) Philosophy tries to ‘enable us by reflection to recognise as the universal principle of reality that ideal which poetry exhibits to us in special creations’ (Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 63).

(84) Caird, ‘The Problem of Philosophy at the Present Time’, 191.

(85) Caird, ‘Wordsworth’, 153.

(86) Jones, Faith that Enquires, 194–5.

(87) ‘Popular Philosophy’, 118.

(88) Mackenzie, Introduction to Social Philosophy, 376–7.

(89) Bosanquet, Principle of Individuality and Value, 358.

(90) Oakley, ‘Poetry and Freedom’, 93–5.

(91) ‘there is no difference whatsoever between the interpretation given by science and that of poetry, or religion, or philosophy’ (Jones, Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher, 175).

(92) Jones, Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher, 4.

(93) Mackenzie, Introduction to Social Philosophy, 376–8.

(94) Seth Pringle-Pattison, ‘A New Theory of the Absolute’, 220.

(95) Bradley, Essays on Truth and Reality, 11–12.

(96) Plato, Republic, 607b.

(97) Nettleship, ‘Lectures on the “Republic” of Plato’, 354.

(98) Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, 293.

(99) History of Aesthetic, 30.

(100) Taylor, Plato, 280.

(101) Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 54.

(102) Jones, Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Teacher, 3.

(103) Nettleship, ‘Lectures on the “Republic” of Plato’, 354. See also ‘Lectures on Logic’, 118.

(104) Mackenzie, Elements of Constructive Philosophy, 17.

(105) Seth, ‘The Relation of the Ethical to the Aesthetic Element in Literature’, 171; Bosanquet, Companion to Plato's Republic, 402.

(106) Nettleship, ‘Lectures on the “Republic” of Plato’, 354, 352.

(107) Taylor, Plato, 279.

(108) History of Aesthetic, 17.

(109) History of Aesthetic, 18.

(110) Bosanquet, Companion to Plato's Republic, 400–1.

(111) Bradley, Principles of Logic, 590–1 see above p.119; A.S. Pringle-Pattison, Hegelianism and Personality, 216 see p.358 below; Henry Jones, The Principles of Citizenship; 137 see p.509 below; J. Caird, Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 124 see p.150 above; H.H. Joachim, The Nature of Truth, 143 see p.443 below.

(112) Collingwood, Autobiography, 50.

(113) Ayer, Language Truth and Logic, 49. Carnap, ‘The Elimination of Metaphysics through the Logical Analysis of Language’. Ayer's gibe is reported in Mace, ‘Representation and Expression’ (38). The comparison between metaphysics and poetry is, of course, deliciously ironic in that the British Idealists' high esteem of poetry would have made them delighted by such an attempt to disparage their metaphysical efforts.

(114) Warnock, English Philosophy since 1900, 6–7. ‘Too many fine phrases; too little argument’—Green, he complains elsewhere, had ‘no firm grasp of what philosophy was about’, the clear statement and clear resolution of problems. (‘A Sage for a Time’, 606).

(115) The Russell/Bradley Dispute, 181.

(116) Eliot, ‘Francis Herbert Bradley’, 197. Eliot came to Oxford to write a thesis on Bradley (Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley). For further details see Jane Mallinson, T.S. Eliot's Interpretation of F.H. Bradley.

(117) Education and Empire, 167.

(118) Idealism as a Practical Creed, 14.

(119) Scottish Philosophy, 196.

(120) See for example ‘The Refutation of Idealism’, Principia Ethica, §§18–22, ‘External and Internal Relations’ and ‘The Conception of Reality’. C.D. Broad was similar: ‘I have an extreme dislike for vague, and oracular writing; and I have very little patience with authors who express themselves in this style. I believe that what can be said at all can be said simply and clearly in any civilized language or in a suitable system of symbols, and that verbal obscurity is almost always a sign of mental confusion’ (‘Critical and Speculative Philosophy’, 81).

(121) Lectures on Logic, 146.

(122) Jones, ‘Education of the Citizen’, 225. As J.E. Turner put it, ‘All living ideas have jagged edges’ (quoted in A.S. Nash, The University and the Modern World, Preface. Arnold Samuel Nash was a pupil of Turner's in Liverpool in the 1920s). Collingwood made a similar point with his notion of ‘the overlap of classes’ (Essay on Philosophical Method, ch.II).

(123) To be sure, it was necessary on occasion to draw a distinction between surface grammar and logical grammar, but that was only because we had been beguiled away from the patent facts of the matter by the sophistical illusions of language.

(124) Moore, Philosophical Studies, 208.

(125) Green, Prolegomena §75. For further discussion see Chapter 4.1.3.1 above.

(126) Bradley, Appearance and Reality, 152. For further discussion see Chapter 4.2 above.

(127) In this connection we may note May Sinclair's ‘Guyon: a Philosophical Dialogue’, a lengthy poem setting out the case for Absolute Idealism.

(128) ‘On Plato's Phaedo’, 123.

(129) See G.R.G. Mure, ‘F.H. Bradley: Towards a Portait’, 32–3; Broomfield, ‘Getting Real: In Praise of Bradley's Aphorisms’.

(130) Essays on Truth and Reality, 14 n.

(131) Appearance and Reality, xiv.

(132) Aphorism, #41.

(133) Aphorism, #25.

(134) Broad, Five Types of Ethical Theory, 144.

(135) J. Caird, University Addresses, University Sermons; E. Caird, Lay Sermons and Addresses; Green, The witness of God and Faith: two lay sermons.

(136) Poetry is distinguished from philosophy by ‘its spontaneous and even unconscious character’ (Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 59). ‘Poetry reaches the results of philosophy by short cuts and without the endless argumentation’ (Jones, Introduction to A History of the Problems of Philosophy, vii) The criticism is also one they were not above using against each other. Pringle-Pattison thought this something the neo-Hegelians were guilty of (Hegelianism and Personality, 102, 107, 120, 123, 128, 188) a charge in which Haldane felt there was at least some justice (‘Hegel and his Recent Critics’, 587).

(137) A.W. Symons, ‘Robert Browning as a Religious Poet’, The Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, December 1882, 943–7; John Bury, ‘Browning's Philosophy’, Browning Studies, London 1895; Josiah Royce, ‘Browning's Theism’ Boston Browning Society Papers, New York 1897, 18–25; A.C. Pigou, Robert Browning as Religious Teacher, London 1901; E.H. Griggs, The Poetry and Philosophy of Browning, New York 1905; F.M. Sim, Robert Browning: Poet and Philosopher, London 1923.

(138) Jones, Immortality of the Soul in the Poems of Tennyson and Browning, 31, 37.

(139) Caird, The Social Philosophy of Comte, 160–1.

(140) Caird, ‘Goethe and Philosophy’, 58–9.

(141) ‘Lectures on logic’, 119.

(142) Caird, Evolution of Religion, I:151.

(143) Bosanquet, Essentials of Logic, 40; Bradley, Principles of Logic, 598.

(144) Philosophical Studies, 261. For Caird see Chapter 5.4.2 above.