Samuel Alexander's Early Reactions to British Idealism

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Samuel Alexander was a central figure of the new wave of realism that swept across the English-speaking world in the early twentieth century. His Space, Time, and Deity (1920a, 1920b) was taken to be the official statement of realism as a metaphysical system. But many historians of philosophy are quick to point out the idealist streak in Alexander’s thought. After all, as a student he was trained at Oxford in the late 1870s and early 1880s as British Idealism was beginning to flourish. This naturally had some effect on his philosophical outlook and it is said that his early work is overtly idealist. In this paper I examine his neglected and understudied reactions to British Idealism in the 1880s. I argue that Alexander was not an idealist during this period and should not be considered as part of the British Idealist tradition, philosophically speaking.
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Archival date: 2018-05-05
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