born June 14, 1848, Alnwick, Northumberland, Eng.
died Feb. 8, 1923, London
philosopher who helped revive in England the idealism of
G.W.F. Hegel and sought to apply its principles to social
and political problems.
Made a fellow of University College, Oxford, in 1870,
Bosanquet was a tutor there until 1881, when he moved to
London to devote himself to philosophical writing and to
work on behalf of the Charity Organisation Society. He was
professor of moral philosophy at St. Andrews University in
Although Bosanquet owed much to Hegel, his first writings
were influenced by the 19th-century German philosopher
Rudolf Lotze, whose Logik and Metaphysik he had edited in
English translation in 1884. The fundamental principles of
such early works as Knowledge and Reality (1885) and Logic
(1888) were further explicated in his Essentials of Logic
(1895) and Implication and Linear Inference (1920), which
stress the central role of logical thought in systematically
addressing philosophical problems.
Bosanquet’s debt to Hegel is more evident in his works on
ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics. Having translated in
1886 the introduction to Hegel’s Philosophy of Fine Art, he
proceeded to his own History of Aesthetic (1892) and Three
Lectures on Aesthetic (1915). Both reflect his belief that
aesthetics can reconcile the natural and the supernatural
worlds. As elsewhere in his work, Bosanquet revealed his
distaste for the materialism of his day and favoured the
neo-Hegelian antidote, which held that everything considered
to be real is a manifestation of a spiritual absolute.
Bosanquet’s ethical and social philosophy, particularly
the practical work Some Suggestions in Ethics (1918), shows
a similar desire to view reality coherently, as a concrete
unity in which pleasure and duty, egoism and altruism are
reconciled. He asserted that the same passion shown by Plato
for the unity of the universe reappeared in Christianity as
the doctrine of the divine spirit manifesting itself in
human society. Social life requires a communal will that
both grows out of individual cooperation and maintains the
individual in a state of freedom and social satisfaction.
This view is expounded in Philosophical Theory of the State
(1899) and in Social and International Ideals (1917).
Basing his metaphysics on Hegel’s concept of the dynamic
quality of human knowledge and experience, Bosanquet
emphasized the interrelated character of the content and the
object of human thought. Thought, he wrote in Three Chapters
on the Nature of Mind (1923), is “the development of
connections” and “the sense of the whole.”