SOCIETY

International conference on British idealism

Dr Stamatoula Panagakou of the University of Cyprus and Dr W. J. Mander of the University of Oxford recently co-organised an International Conference on “British Idealism and the Concept of the Self” at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. Scholars from Britain, the USA, Canada, Greece and Cyprus, Italy, Israel, Finland, China, Venezuela, Sweden, Poland, Nigeria, the Netherlands, and Taiwan had the opportunity to present their papers and exchange ideas about their research in the inspiring environment of Oxford. The Conference marked the 10th anniversary of the “International Conference on Anglo-American Idealism” which took place in Greece in 2003.

The philosophers shared unforgettable moments of communication and friendship at the majestic Harris Manchester College which has a strong “idealist connection.” Key figures of the British Idealist movement (B. Bosanquet, H. Jones, J. S. Mackenzie, J. H. Muirhead, J. Seth, A. Seth Pringle-Pattison, J. Royce, J. A. Smith, and W. R. Sorley) lectured there. From 1884 to 1887, J. H. Muirhead was a student of philosophy and theology at Harris Manchester College. Edward Caird – the celebrated Scottish Idealist philosopher and Master of Balliol – was one of the College Visitors from 1902 to 1908.

The scholars who participated in the Conference explored the concept of the self in the philosophical discourse of Anglo-American Idealism, and showed the enduring relevance of Idealism to issues of ethics, logic, metaphysics, religion, politics, psychology, history, aesthetics, and hermeneutics. Revisiting the work of such philosophers as J. F. Ferrier, J. Grote, J. Caird, E. Caird, T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, B. Bosanquet, A. Seth Pringle-Pattison, J. M. E. McTaggart, J. Watson, R. G. Collingwood, J. Ward, J. Royce, and M. Oakeshott can be both an enlightening and rewarding experience. The British Idealists promoted an ethical vision of life that focused on the realisation of the moral self and the attainment of the common good in the context of the social whole. Their efforts to heighten the tone of their society and to empower the individual are reflected in their analyses of the concept of the self. British Idealism has a moral view of politics and the state which is instructive and timeless.

The Conference provided a forum for intellectual collaboration, and dialogue, and showed the benefits of interdisciplinary research, as well as the vigour and vitality of the Idealist movement.

The Conference Delegates were: Prof James W. Allard, Dr Dina Babushkina, Prof Alastair Beattie, Dr Jan Olof Bengtsson, Prof David Boucher, Dr Thom Brooks, Mr Steve Buckel, Prof Gary L. Cesarz, Prof James Connelly, Prof Susan Daniel, Dr Maria Dimova-Cookson, Prof Karim Dharamsi, Dr Giuseppina D’Oro, Dr Jeremy Dunham, Dr Owen Fellows, Prof Phil Ferreira, Dr John Gibbins, Dr Lucan Gregory, Dr Janusz Grygienc, Mr Matt Hann, Dr Damian Ilodigwe, Mr James Jia-Hau Liu, Dr Jenny Keefe, Prof Douglas McDermid, Prof Joseph McGinn, Dr W. J. Mander, Prof Rex Martin, Mr Peter P. Nicholson, Mr Davide Orsi, Dr Stamatoula Panagakou, Dr Robert Sibley, Prof. Avital Simhony, Mr Keith Sutherland, Prof William Sweet, Dr Emily Thomas, Prof Elizabeth Trott, Prof Roy Tseng, Prof Colin Tyler, Prof Andrew Vincent, Dr Ben Wempe, Dr Sverre Wide, and Prof Ian Winchester.

The Conference Organisers would like to thank the Principal and Fellows of the College, the Samuel and Daniel Jones Trust, and the University of Cyprus.