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.