chapter  11
11 Pages

Naturalist idealism: Bernard Bosanquet

As we have seen Bradley considers nature to be appearance, and, to that extent, not reality. His arguments are eff ectively directed against any account of nature that “fall[s] outside of all mind” (1930: 231). Bosanquet, by contrast, is an insistent naturalist: “What governs thought and fi nds utterance in its coherence is, as I hold, simply the nature of things” (1921: 176); everything positive in mind is drawn from nature (1912: 367). He criticizes Bradley’s conception of metaphysics as solely discursive,2 because it refuses to allow for thought as part of the reality it describes. As Bradley writes, “You are led to take the physical world as a mere adjective of my body, and you fi nd that my body, on the other hand, is not one whit more substantival” (1930: 236). On this basis, thought would have to remain ultimately external to reality and, moreover, to a physical being, the reality of which the consistent Bradleyan would have to deny. Hence Bosanquet’s response: “the nature of external objects is continuous with that of the stuff of mind, and is physical, i.e. has variations relative to those of other objects, as well as psychical” (1911: vol. 2, 309).