British Idealism - influenced by the character of German Idealist thought at the end of the eighteenth century, developed by Kant, Fichte and Hegel - began to establish its roots during the middle of the nineteenth century and rapidly became the dominant British philosophy. It began to be challenged at the turn of the century by philosophers including Bertrand Russell and by the end of the First World War it was on the retreat, although its philosophical reverberations are still evident. Testimony to this fact is the considerable renaissance in all aspects of Idealist studies, and particularly in the works of its most recent twentieth-century exponents Michael Oakeshott and R.G. Collingwood.
About the Author
Andrew Vincent is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Sheffield.
An original project, both in its conception and execution. The authors have risen magnificently to the challenge... (they) write as acknowledged experts in the field; but while they draw on their own previous work, they extend and deepen it by asking many new questions. The book fills a major gap in the literature; it will stimulate interest from many sections of the political theory community; and it makes controversial claims on behalf of Idealism which will provoke responses.
Boucher and Vincent have a deep knowledge of British idealism, on which they write with care and balance.
It is to the credit of Boucher and Vincent that their book goes a long way in achieving the goal of making the British Idealists intelligible, interesting and relevant to contemporary philosophical and political projects without sacrificing authentic retrieval of historical context on the altar of passing fashion. Original, scholarly and thoughtful.
Its value lies not only in a very lucid and accessible exposition of their main arguments, but in a successful attempt to contextualise the various thinkers against the backdrop of the current concerns of political theory and to invigorate those concerns by providing them with much-needed historical depth. Both political philosophers and students of British political history need to acquaint themselves with this work.
These studies are so impressive not simply because they combine scholarship with detailed philosophical analysis, but also because each makes a significant contribution to the existing literature. Moreover, taken together with the book's economical and balanced introduction, these studies constitute an accessible route into the political theories of a wrongly neglected philosophical movement.