British Idealism and Social Explanation: A Study in Late Victorian Thought

Hardcover | February 1, 1996

bySandra M. den Otter

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Idealism became the dominant philosphical school of thought in late nineteenth-century Britain. In this original and stimulating study, Sandra den Otter examines its roots in Greek and German thinking and locates it among the prevalent methodologies and theories of the period: empiricism andpositivism, naturalism, evolution, and utilitarianism. In particular, she sets it in the context of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century debate about a science of society and the contemporary preoccupation with `community'. The new discipline of sociology was closely tied to the studyof and search for community, and Dr den Otter shows how the idealists offered a philosophy of community to a generation particularly concerned by this notion. Dr den Otter investigates the idealist construction - by thinkers such as Bosanquet, MacKenzie, and Ritchie - of an interpretive social philosophy which none the less adopted various strands of empiricist, positivist, and even naturalist thought in its attempt to frame a social theory suited to thedilemmas of an industrialized and urbanized Britain. This study of a multifarious movement of ideas and their interaction with pioneering social groups interweaves philosophical and sociological concerns to make an important contribution to intellectual history.

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From Our Editors

'Community' - how to define and to secure it has become a topic of lively discussion. This endeavour also struck a deep chord among Victorians encountering the urban, industrial culture that had emerged by the end of the nineteenth century. In this original and stimulating study, Sandra den Otter explores the idealists' search for 'con...

From the Publisher

Idealism became the dominant philosphical school of thought in late nineteenth-century Britain. In this original and stimulating study, Sandra den Otter examines its roots in Greek and German thinking and locates it among the prevalent methodologies and theories of the period: empiricism andpositivism, naturalism, evolution, and utili...

Sandra M. den Otter is a Lecturer in History at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:262 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.79 inPublished:February 1, 1996Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198206003

ISBN - 13:9780198206002

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From Our Editors

'Community' - how to define and to secure it has become a topic of lively discussion. This endeavour also struck a deep chord among Victorians encountering the urban, industrial culture that had emerged by the end of the nineteenth century. In this original and stimulating study, Sandra den Otter explores the idealists' search for 'connection', for a sense of community that fitted the new forms of society, characterized for many concerned observers by dislocation, a loosening of traditional bonds, and intense individualism. Idealist responses to these problems dominated social theory until the Great War. This book illuminates the idealists' place in the vigorous contemporary debate about a new science of society. Idealist links to German thought, the teaching of philosophy in mid-century Oxford, and idealist criticisms of the naturalist underpinnings of much current social theory are assessed. Dr den Otter argues that idealists constructed an interpretive social theory which adopted various strands of positivist and even naturalist manners in its attempt to frame

Editorial Reviews

`fine study'Christopher Kent, University of Saskatchewan, Canadian Journal of Hisotry, XXXII, April 1997