British Idealism and its Empire


Authors
William Sweet
St. Francis Xavier University
Abstract
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
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