It is generally acknowledged that the British Idealism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a significant influence in the philosophy, politics, and culture of that country. In this study, I argue that it also had a considerable impact throughout much of the English-speaking world, and beyond -- in Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa, India, and even East Asia. This idealism engaged 'local' philosophical traditions and culture, contributed to them, and sometimes led to 'new' philosophies or (...) traditions, and so may be described as a 'migrating tradition.' While the character and extent of this influence varied according to where and how it migrated, British Idealism can, nevertheless and in amodestway, be said to have had an 'empire'. This study, then, addresses both a historical issue and the broader philosophical question of why British Idealism was successful in this diaspora, and it identifies a number of features of this Idealism which may explain this. (shrink)
In this paper I outline some ways in which philosophy can contribute to the study of culture and pluralism, and how such a study may lead to a better understanding of philosophical enquiry. Building on earlier work (Sweet, 2002), I focus on four areas in which these contributions might be made. The first concerns the methodological, ideological, and historical presuppositions of culture and multiculturalism. The second area considers how philosophical discourse affects a culture's "self-understanding". The third area focuses on how (...) (and how far) philosophy may enable a culture to allow diversity and pluralism within the larger community. The fourth area deals with philosophy's dialectical relation with culture -how far philosophy is a product of culture, and whether that affects philosophy's participation in culture. An exploration of these areas will show both what role philosophy has to play in the analysis of culture, and why it is important for philosophers -especially in the English-speaking world- to engage in the "philosophy of culture". (shrink)
This volume presents and discusses the theory of rights of the British idealist political philosopher, Bernard Bosanquet. The political philosophy of the British idealists in general and of Bernard Bosanquet in particular, has been the subject of much misunderstanding and prejudice. Bosanquet's theory of rights proposes to provide a response to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and the natural rights-based political philosophy of Herbert. The question addressed in this book then, is whether Bosanquet's theory is a (...) plausible alternative to these 'individualist' views. The author believes that a complete statement of Bosanquet's theory of rights requires an elaboration of his "metaphysical theory of the nature of social reality"--his "social ontology."(publisher,edited). (shrink)
I argue that British Idealist Bernard Bosanquet’s discussion of cultural phenomena reflects principles present in his logic—principles articulated long before his explicitly absolutist views and from a period in which all agree he clearly held humanist values. This, I conclude, obliges us also to reevaluate some of the standard assessments of Bosanquet’s philosophy and, particularly, those that see his ‘absolutism’ as inconsistent with his humanism.
The place of British idealism in the history of political thought has been the subject of much debate. Some have maintained that it represented "a complete change" from the liberal tradition of Mill and Bentham. We re-examine here some features of Bosanquet's political philosophy, arguing that evidence for its alleged "conservative" or "illiberal" character is far from conclusive. Still, while there are a number of key liberal values to be found in Bosanquet's thought, in several important respects he breaks with (...) the earlier liberal tradition in Britain. This will allow us to draw some conclusions about the place of idealism in the history of 19th century British liberalism. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss some challenges to the discourse of universal human rights made by those who insist that the existence of pluralism and cultural diversity count against it. I focus on arguments made in a recent article by Vinay Lal but also address several other criticisms of universal human rights-arguments hinted at, but not elaborated, by Lal. I maintain that these challenges frequently fail to distinguish the discourse of human rights from its adoption by certain states to advance (...) foreign policy objectives, and suggest that, even when these criticisms appear plausible, closer inspection reveals that they are either inconsistent or simply do not succeed. I conclude that the notion of universal human rights still has an important place in a culturally diverse and pluralist world. (shrink)
William Sweet offers a rejoinder to Hendrik Hart’s response. He begins with terminological considerations, and argues that, despite Hart’s further clarifications regarding his use of such terms as ‘faith,’ ‘belief,’ and ‘rational,’ the concerns raised in his first critical essay (“Anti-foundationalism, Hendrik Hart, and the Nature and Function of Religious Belief,” Philosophy & Theology 8:2) still stand. He raises two substantive issues which, he argues, Hart has yet to explain fully and convincingly: the nature of faith, and how what religious (...) believers say about their faith can be understood as meaningful or true. He concludes by suggesting that the future conversation focus on two central questions: the nature of faith, and whether Hart is arguing for an ‘alternative’ vision of meaning and truth, or simply a ‘broader’ one. (shrink)
ln a number of recent essays, Hendrik Hart has elaborated an account of the nature and function of religious belief that, he believes, is post-modern in inspiration and anti-foundationalist in character. ln this paper, I reconstruct what I take to be Hart’s central claims. While Hart does remind us of some important aspects of the nature of religious belief---aspects often overlooked by many critics---l suggest that there are several problems in the account he provides, that there are tensions between his (...) view of religious belief and his claims about how it can function, and that it is not clear that he ultimately avoids adopting a variant of the foundationalism he explicitly rejects. (shrink)