Idealism

In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), A Companion to Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne VIC, Australia: (2010)

Authors
W. Martin Davies
University of Melbourne
Abstract
The honour of being the first to teach philosophy in Australia belongs to the Congregationalist minister Barzillai Quaife (1798–1873), in the 1850s, but teaching philosophy did not formally begin until the 1880s, with the establishment of universities (Grave 1984). Two approaches have dominated Western philosophy in Australia: Idealism and materialism. Idealism was prevalent between the 1880s and the 1930s, but dissipated thereafter. It was particularly associated with the work of the first professional philosophers in Australia, such as Henry Laurie (1837–1922), Francis Anderson (1858–1941), William Mitchell (1861–1962) (who rejected the label) and a second generation including W. R. Boyce Gibson (1869–1935). Idealism in Australia often reflected Kantian themes, together with the British, particularly Scottish, revival of interest in Hegel through the work of the ‘Absolute Idealists’ T. H. Green (1836–1882), F. H. Bradley (1846–1924) and Henry Jones (1852–1922), the latter of whom conducted a popular lecture tour of Australia (Boucher 1990). A number of the early New Zealand philosophers, including Duncan MacGregor (1843–1906), William Salmond (1835–1917), and Francis W. Dunlop (1874–1932) were educated in the Idealist tradition and were influential in their communities, but produced relatively little. William Anderson (1889–1955), at Auckland, brother of John at Sydney, was the only New Zealand philosopher that seemed to retain Idealist views. In Australia, materialism gained prominence through the work of John Anderson, who arrived in Australia in 1927, and continues to be influential. John Anderson had been a student of Henry Jones, who can be said to have influenced both strands of Australian philosophical thought.
Keywords Idealism  Australian Philosophy
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