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Thomas Hill Green

(1836—1882) philosopher

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English absolute idealist. Green was born in Yorkshire, and educated at Oxford. He was a tutor of Balliol College, and in 1878 became professor of moral philosophy at Oxford. His introduction to his edition of Hume's works (produced with T. H. Grose) is a major attack on traditional empiricism, but he is mainly recognized for the Prologomena to Ethics published the year after his death. In this he argues that empiricist ‘passions’ are inadequate springs of action, which are instead provided by the selfconscious pursuit of a good. This is an early example of a line of criticism of Humean and emotive theories of ethics that is still current, but in Green the springs of action rapidly become identified with immersion in a larger whole, produced by an absolute mind that itself enshrines goodness, truth, and beauty. The ‘school of Green’ was an influential element in the philosophical climate of Oxford until after the First World War.

Subjects: Philosophy

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