Boston Paper

This is the abstract of my paper, ‘Further Considerations on Personalism and Idealism’, at the 13th International Conference on Persons in Boston earlier this month:

Sitting down for questions and discussion after reading the paper (Photo: Jane Ferreira)

Sitting down for questions and discussion after reading the paper (Photo: Jane Ferreira)

Boston personalism was originally, and has to some extent remained, an idealistic philosophy. Borden Parker Bowne’s work represents, as does that of his British contemporary, Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, not least a further, independent development of central themes in German Spätidealismus in the 19th century. In this respect it differs considerably from the – often converging – main forms of European personalism, which are related to distinctly non-idealist currents such as phenomenology, existentialism, and neo-Thomism. In this paper I reexamine some aspects of the question of the relationship between personalism and idealism in the light of recent idealism scholarship and of a partial assessment of what can be considered to be of lasting value and relevance in idealism. Taking into account the European background of idealistic personalism, it is necessary to raise anew the fundamental issue of the definition of idealism, and to distinguish between some of its main versions, including a brief recapitulation of its transformations in the 20th century. My conclusion is that, whether or not personalism, as Bowne argued, is intrinsically and necessarily idealistic, the insights and resources of idealism remain not just valid but important and badly needed precisely for personalism.

13th International Conference on Persons

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
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