Bradley, Ethical Studies, and Dialectic: Self-Realisation and its Equivocations

Bradley Studies 10 (1/2):65-87 (2004)
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Abstract

A striking feature of Bradley’s thought is its dialectical structure. This is evident in all his writings especially Ethical Studies in which he investigates the topic of self-realization within the larger context of the question of the nature of morality. In the Ethical Studies Bradley looks at different accounts of morality vis-à-vis the demand of self realization and finds none of them absolutely adequate albeit one is relatively adequate than the other. For this reason he condemns the “ethics of pleasure for pleasure sake” and rates it lower than “ethics of duty for duty sake” even though from a larger standpoints he finds “ethics of duty for duty sake” equally inadequate whereas it takes it that the “ethics of my stations and duties” fares better than “ethics of duty for duty sake” even if it does not offer us any resting place. Although the structure of Bradley’s Ethical Studies is dialectical and to this extent is Bradley’s most Hegelian writing it is a mistake not to pay attention to Bradley’s divergence from Hegelianism which is already evident in Ethical Studies especially with regard to what he makes of the relationship between morality, religion and philosophy. What this means that despite his sympathy to dialectical thinking, Bradley’s relation to dialectics in the end is ambivalent.

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Damian Ilodigwe
Ss Peter And Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan

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