Conversatio Divina

20th Century Metaphysics – It’s All Bradley

Dallas Willard

F.H. Bradley (d. 1924), the British idealist, is the subject of the last lecture in Dallas Willard’s metaphysics class that survives (as far as we know). Willard’s next and last topic was on G.E. Moore’s “A Refutation of Idealism” and the American New Realists.

In this lecture Dallas is still teaching about the theory of relations, but he is reading through Bradley’s Appearance and Reality (which he calls a textbook made from A.E. Taylor’s essay read earlier in the semester) and is discussing the idealist view of relations. Dallas points out the connections to Hegelian and especially Kantian thought, especially in the respect that what exists is what is experienced. Relations are not real in and of themselves but exist only in terms of being a human “device.” At the bottom, everything is consistently one.

This may not seem to be a view one encounters often but to the contrary Dallas argues that major 20th century philosophers like Carnap, Quine and Putnam are basically pushing Bradley. “It’s all Bradley,” Dallas says.