The British Hegelians
I have taken the title ‘Hegelian ethics’ to refer to the ethics of Hegel himself rather than to a general view which derives from Hegel. Part of my reason for so doing was that I wanted to try to fill an obvious gap in philosophical literature, little or nothing having been written from a modern point of view on this aspect of Hegel’s work. But I also think that it can be fairly claimed that, in ethics at any rate, Hegel stands head and shoulders above those who followed him in everything except literary skill, and thus that his theories deserve independent philosophical consideration as those of later Hegelians do not. The ethical opinions of Green, Bradley and Bosanquet are certainly not uninteresting; despite the low repute in which Green and Bosanquet stand today there is something to be learned from all three of them. But their most distinctive doctrines, as they would themselves have been the first to acknowledge, are derivative, and the main source from which they drew them was Hegel. These writers are, in general, more lucid than Hegel and more easily understood, but they are also, unfortunately, more provincial in their outlook and less profound in their ethical insights. Their thought is for the most part free of the extravagances and eccentricities which mar Hegel’s wilder pronouncements, but equally it lacks the penetration and originality which are the other side of the Hegelian coin.
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