Oxford Paper

I read my paper ‘In Defence of the Personal Idealist Conception of the Finite Self’ at the Oxford conference on British Idealism in August (photo by Jane Ferreira):

Bengtsson

Abstract:

Revisiting the great international controversy, throughout the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, between so-called personal and absolute idealism regarding the nature and identity of the finite self, and primarily the well-known and comparatively late debate on this issue between Pringle-Pattison as representative of the former branch of idealism and Bosanquet as representative of the latter, this paper further explores the two closely related aspects of the problem focused on by these thinkers, and largely in their own conceptual terms: the question of whether finite individuals (or, more precisely, finite individuals that are selves) are to be conceived as having a “substantive” or an “adjectival” mode of being, and the question of the “imperviousness” of such finite individual selves, or persons. Complexifying the debate by introducing a number of new definitions and distinctions deemed necessary for its proper elucidation, while at the same time remaining entirely within and confirming the general framework of idealism that was both Pringle-Pattison’s and Bosanquet’s, the paper defends what could perhaps be said to be the general position of personal idealism (in contradistinction to every single particular formulation of Pringle-Pattison’s) in the manner in which it was normally defended by the personal idealists themselves, i.e. as an idealist position that in no way rejects, as the classificatory terminological distinction between personal and absolute idealism might suggest, the concept of the absolute.

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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