Bradley's Theory of the Self

Dissertation, Tulane University (1984)

Abstract
In the received histories F. H. Bradley's philosophy is credited with being the watershed between the old-fashioned metaphysical philosophy and contemporary philosophical practice. It is often contended that his main claims are outdated or soundly refuted. ;However, this view is inaccurate due to the prejudices arising from influential misinterpretations of his philosophy. A prominent area in Bradley's philosophy which has been neglected owing to this traditional misinterpretation is his philosophy of the self. He is not usually credited with a theory of the self since it is usually pointed out that he claimed that the self is unreal. Although that claim is Bradley's, the usual interpretation of it is inadequate. ;In this dissertation, Bradley's conception of philosophy is explained and defended against this traditional misinterpretation. His general critics are discussed and answered. His philosophy of the self is developed from its expression from the Ethical Studies through Appearance and Reality to the Essays on Truth and Reality. ;The central portion of the dissertation develops and defends Bradley's theory of the self which claims that the self is a dialectic within Reality which is generated by the tensions found within experience. The self lies chiefly in the tension between self-knowledge and self-ignorance. As the self is able to balance the tensions which generate it, it gains integrity and Individuality. Bradley's claim that the self is the highest appearance is thereby explained. ;The dissertation also contrasts Bradley's theory of the self with contemporary views and finds them to come short of Bradley's theory due to their tendency towards solipsism and to their neglect of the problem of self-ignorance. Finally, the dissertation describes Bradley's continuing influence upon contemporary philosophy, including his contribution to logic, Process philosophy, and contemporary Idealism
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