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- Moore, George Edward | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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- George Edward Moore
So the supervenience of intrinsic value removes the option of a non-reductive naturalism without contradicting his version of ethical non-naturalism. Subsequent discussion has shown that the relationship between supervenience and reduction is a complicated matter, and though I think that Moore's position is defensible this is not the place to take the issue further. Instead I want to turn to the concept of intrinsic value which is central to Moore's theory. Despite this distinction it remains the case that intrinsic value is the fundamental type of ethical value, since instrumental value is definable in terms of the intrinsic value of a situation's consequences.
This is not a conception which is familiar to us, but Moore illustrates the point by the following case: As before intrinsic value remains the fundamental conception of value, since a situation's value as a part is defined in terms of the overall intrinsic value of a complex situation to which it makes a contribution beyond its own intrinsic value.
Nonetheless this point implies that a thing's intrinsic value is not simply its value irrespective of its consequences; it is also its value irrespective of its context. There are two connected problems here: The problem here is not that Moore's principle is incorrect, but rather that it seems irrational since it puts a block on moral reasoning. The second problem concerns the thesis that intrinsic value is the same in all contexts. For this just seems wrong, in that the value of, say, friendship differs from one context to another. Although, as Moore rightly says, friendship is normally one of the most valuable things there is, it has no value at all where claims of justice are at stake, as in a court of law.
Another area where Moore's ethical theory is problematic is his account of ethical knowledge. Because of his hostility to ethical naturalism Moore denies that ethical knowledge is a matter of empirical enquiry. But, as we have seen, he is equally hostile to Kant's rationalist thesis that fundamental ethical truths are truths of reason. Instead he holds that ethical knowledge rests on a capacity for an intuitive grasp of fundamental ethical truths for which we can give no reason since there is no reason to be given.
The trouble with this is that if we can say nothing to support a claim to such knowledge, those who disagree with it can only register their disagreement and pass on; hence ethical debate is liable to turn into the expression of conflicting judgements which admit of no resolution. In the light of this, it is not surprising that Moore's ethical theory was regarded as undermining the cognitive status of morality, and thus that it led directly to the development of ethical non-cognitivism by those who were influenced by Moore, such as A. Yet there was another side to Moore's discussion of ethical issues, in which he found himself arguing against the hedonist thesis that pleasure is the only thing with positive intrinsic value, despite the fact that officially he held that no such arguments could be given.
Because this indirect method is not integrated into his official method of ethical inquiry, he says little about its presuppositions. This emphasis reflects the fact that this aspect of Moore's ethical theory has been most influential; but it is also worth mentioning briefly some points from his moral theory. Moore presents a straightforward consequentialist account of the relationship between the right and the good: In practice, because it is so difficult for us to determine by ourselves what is the best outcome, he allows that we probably do best if we follow established rules; thus Moore ends up recommending a conservative form of rule consequentialism, for which he was criticised by Keynes and Russell.
Later critics such as W. Moore's choice of values is striking: The individualism of the resulting morality is enhanced by the fact that Moore maintains that these intrinsic values are incommensurable, and thus that the assessment of priorities among them is inescapably a matter of individual judgment.
Although Moore was neither a mathematician nor a logical theorist he was one of the first people to grasp that Russell's new logical theory was an essential tool for philosophy and offered important new insights. As we saw above, in his early work Moore had been emphatic that propositions are altogether independent of thought and had even proposed that facts are just true propositions.
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So he now rejected the view that facts are just true propositions. On his new view, facts are, as before, constituted by objects and their properties; but what about propositions?
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According to Moore, philosophers talk legitimately of propositions in order to identify the aspects of thought and language which are crucial to questions of truth and inference, and in doing so it may appear that they regard propositions as genuine entities. But, Moore now holds, this implication is unwarranted: Moore does not allude here explicitly to Russell's theory of incomplete symbols and logical fictions, but it is clear that this is the kind of position he has in mind.
The new logic enables one to preserve realist appearances without accepting realist metaphysics. Yet Moore was not an uncritical follower of Russell. While recognising that entailment is closely connected to logical necessity he came to think that entailment is not just a matter of the necessity of the truth-functional conditional, thereby setting off a debate about this relationship which continues to this day.
Again, Moore was critical of Russell's treatment of existence, in particular his denial that it makes sense to treat existence as a first-order predicate of particular objects for Russell, existence has to be expressed by the existential quantifier and is therefore a second-order predicate of predicates.
Moore's uses of Russell's logic take place in the broader context of his use of analysis as a method of philosophy.
Moore, George Edward | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Although Moore always denied that philosophy is just analysis, there is no denying that it plays a central role in his philosophy and it is therefore important to determine what motivates this role. This question is especially pressing in Moore's case because he rejected the main analytical programmes of twentieth century philosophy — both Wittgenstein's logical atomism and the logical empiricism of the members of the Vienna circle and their followers such as A. In the first case, Moore rejected Wittgenstein's thesis that whatever exists exists necessarily; as with the idealist thesis that all relations are internal, Moore held that our common sense conviction that some of the things which exist might not have done so creates a strong presumption against any philosopher who maintains the opposite, and that the logical atomist position does not provide convincing reasons why this presumption should be overturned.
In addition Moore held that it is just not true that all necessity is logical necessity, as Wittgenstein maintained; in his early writings, despite his hostility to Kant, he had explicitly defended the conception of necessary synthetic truths and he did not change his mind on this point. But Moore also recognised that his early criticisms of William James' pragmatism can be applied to the logical empiricist position.
In connection with James, Moore had observed that where a proposition concerns the past, it may well be that we are in a situation in which a proposition and its negation are both unverifiable because there is now no evidence either way on the matter. But, he argued, it does not follow that we cannot now affirm that either the proposition or its negation is true, thanks to the Law of Excluded Middle; in which case it cannot be that truth is verifiability — contrary both to James' pragmatism and to logical empiricism.
Yet why then did Moore think that the analysis of propositions was so important? In addition, when explaining the importance of philosophical analysis, he emphasized the importance of getting clear what is at issue in some debate; but an issue which he himself was not clear about was that of the implications of an analysis. In his early writings he took the view that in so far as the analysis of a proposition clarifies it, it also clarifies its ontological implications; thus he then held it to be an objection to a phenomenalist analysis of propositions about material objects that the analysis calls into question the existence of such objects.
But he later took the opposite point of view, maintaining that a phenomenalist analysis just provides an account of what their existence amounts to. This remark, I think, reflects the true importance of philosophical analysis for Moore: Once the concept of a sense-datum has been introduced in this way, it is easy to see that false appearances can be handled by distinguishing between the properties of sense-data we apprehend and the properties of the physical objects which give rise to these sense-data. But what is the relationship between sense-data and physical objects? Moore took it that there are three serious candidates to be considered: The indirect realist position is that to which he was initially drawn; but he could see that it leaves our beliefs about the physical world exposed to skeptical doubt, since it implies that the observations which constitute evidence for these beliefs concern only the properties of non-physical sense-data, and there is no obvious way for us to obtain further evidence to support a hypothesis about the properties of the physical world and its relationship to our sense-data.
This argument is reminiscent of Berkeley's critique of Locke, and Moore therefore considered carefully Berkeley's phenomenalist alternative. This may be felt to be too intuitive, like Dr. Johnson's famous objection to Berkeley; but Moore could also see that there were substantive objections to the phenomenalist position, such as the fact that our normal ways of identifying and anticipating significant uniformities among our sense-data draw on our beliefs about our location in physical space and the state of our physical sense-organs, neither of which are available to the consistent phenomenalist.
So far Moore's dialectic is familiar. What is unfamiliar is his direct realist position, according to which sense-data are physical. This position avoids the problems so far encountered, but in order to accommodate false appearances Moore has to allow that sense-data may lack the properties which we apprehend them as having. It may be felt that in so far as sense-data are objects at all, this is inevitable; but Moore now needs to provide an account of the apparent properties of sense-data and it is not clear how he can do this without going back on the initial motivation for the sense-datum theory by construing these apparent properties as properties of our experiences.
But what in fact turns Moore against this direct realist position is the difficulty he thinks it leads to concerning the treatment of hallucinations. In such cases, Moore holds, any sense-data we apprehend are not parts of a physical object; so direct realism cannot apply to them, and yet there is no reason to hold that they are intrinsically different from the sense-data which we apprehend in normal experience.
Moore wrote more extensively about perception than about any other topic. In these writings he moves between the three alternatives set out here without coming to any firm conclusion.
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From the outside, it seems clear that what was leading him astray was the sense-datum hypothesis itself and his reflections on perception can be regarded as an extended reductio ad absurdum of this hypothesis. It was only towards the end of his career that he encountered in Ducasse's adverbial theory a serious alternative to the sense-datum hypothesis. But the adverbial theory provides no easy way of avoiding the difficulties Moore confronted: Moore rightly objected to Ducasse that it is not at all clear how the structure of a sensory field can be construed in adverbial terms.
Yet there were other alternatives: It is, I think, a pity that Moore did not engage with this position, but this detachment was all too characteristic of the relationship at the time between the analytical and phenomenological traditions. Concerning these truisms he then asserts, first, that he knows them for certain, second, that other people likewise know for certain the truth of comparable truisms about themselves and, third, that he knows this second general truth and, by implication, others do too.
So the truth and general knowledge of these truisms is a matter of common sense. Having set out these truisms, Moore then acknowledges that some philosophers have denied their truth or, more commonly, denied our knowledge of them even though, according to Moore, they also know them and he attempts to show that these denials are incoherent or unwarranted. These claims might seem to leave little space for radical philosophical argument. But in the last part of the paper Moore argues that his defence of common sense leaves completely undecided the question as to how the truistic propositions which make up the common sense view of the world are to be analysed; the analysis may be as radical as one likes as long as it is consistent with the truth and knowability of the propositions analysed.
Thus, for example, he is content to allow that philosophical argument may show that a phenomenalist analysis of propositions about the physical world is correct. Moore then maintains that he can do this —. For its premises certainly entail its conclusion and they are things which he then knew to be true —. The significance of this performance has been debated ever since Moore set it out. It is commonly supposed that Moore here sets himself to refute philosophical skepticism; and that his performance, though intriguing, is unsuccessful. But this interpretation is incorrect: Moore's avowed aim is to prove the existence of an external world, not to prove his knowledge of the existence of an external world.
Moore himself set this out clearly in a subsequent discussion of his lecture:. It is, I think, obvious that it does not; for that issue is one which depends on broader philosophical questions about idealism which cannot possibly be settled that way. Moore's own distinction between questions of truth and questions of analysis should be introduced here.
But on examination it turns out that his strategy here is more subtle; he wants to argue that we get our understanding of knowledge primarily through straightforward cases of this kind, and thus that skeptical arguments are self-undermining: The force of arguments of this kind is, however, disputable, since the skeptic can always present his argument as a reductio ad absurdum of the possibility of knowledge; and the same point applies to Moore's other attempts to convict the skeptic of some kind of pragmatic incoherence.
Most commentators agree that Moore lost his way here. But it is not clear where, since Moore makes no obvious mistake. Moore was clearly right when, for example, he remarked that despite Russell's frequent skeptical professions, Russell was nonetheless perfectly sure, without a shadow of doubt, on thousands of occasions, that he was sitting down. I myself think that Wittgenstein's writings On Certainty , which were much influenced by Moore, best indicate how this is to be achieved, but this is not the place to demonstrate this achievement. Moore was not a systematic philosopher: Hence, as the preceding discussions show, Moore's legacy is primarily a collection of arguments, puzzles and challenges.
Why is this so? Why is it absurd for me to say something that it is true about myself? This case is typical. His own discussions of their significance are not always satisfying; but he would be the first to acknowledge his own fallibility. What matters is that if we start where he starts we can be sure that we are dealing with something that will tell us something important about ourselves and the world.
Focusing now on a single sensation, the sensation of blue, Moore says that, when it exists, either 1 consciousness alone exists, 2 the object alone that is, blue exists, or 3 both exist together presumably this is the sensation of blue. But each of these possibilities represents a different state of affairs: Thus it is not the case that the sensation of blue is identical to blue, and it is therefore false that esse is percipi. However, the essay also has a positive conclusion, which purports to establish the truth of a direct realist account of cognition. Most philosophers in the modern period have accepted some form of representationalism, according to which we have direct cognitive access only to our own mental states ideas, impressions, perceptions, judgments, etc.
It is to know something which is as truly and really not a part of my experience, as anything which I can ever know. When the problem of objective falsehoods finally drove him to abandon both, a revised account of cognition was required to secure some form of epistemological realism.
Examples of include color patches the octagonal patch of red associated with a stop sign and appearances the elliptical appearance of a coin when viewed at an angle. Beyond examples of this sort, exactly what sense-data are was never made sufficiently clear by Moore or others. Thanks largely to Moore, their nature was kept a matter of ongoing debate in the early twentieth century. Most proponents of sense-data construed them as mental entities responsible for mediating our sensory experiences of external objects. In its usual form, sense-data theory is a form of representationalism consistent with indirect realism, not direct realism.
Moore initially accepted this representationalist view of sense-data; but he was not long content with it, since it seemed to leave the commonsense view of the world open to skeptical doubts of a familiar, Cartesian variety. Consequently, he modified sense-data theory to make it a form of direct realism, just as he had previously done with proposition theory. His strategy in both cases was the same: Thus, for a period of about fifteen years, Moore attempted off-and-on to defend a view according to which sense-data were identical to external objects or parts of such objects.
Ultimately, Moore could not sustain this sense-data version of direct realism any better than his previous, propositional version.
George Edward Moore
It gave way under the weight of arguments such as the argument from illusion and the argument from synthetic incompatibility. The latter runs as follows. Suppose that person A is looking at the front side of a coin straight-on, and person B is looking at the same coin from an angle.
To A, the front side of the coin appears to be circular; to B, it appears to be elliptical. The sense-data theorist accounts for this by saying that A is seeing a circular sense-datum, while B is seeing an elliptical sense-datum. On the representationalist version of sense-data theory, we can explain the difference between true perceptions and false illusory perceptions by referring to the correspondence and lack of correspondence between a sense-datum and the external object it represents.
By , Moore conceded that he could find no way around these sorts of arguments cf. Moore , hence he fell back on a version of indirect realism. With his failed attempt to sustain a direct realist version of sense-data theory, Moore had come to the end of his rope in trying to work out an adequate, realist ontology of cognition. This did not lead to his abandoning either epistemological or metaphysical realism in general, however.
To do so would have been a genuine possibility, since to abandon direct realism is to admit that we have no direct evidence of the existence of the commonsense world. Instead of sliding down the potentially slippery slope from representationalism to anti-realism, however, Moore dug in his heels, insisting that we are justified in accepting the commonsense view of the world despite the fact that we cannot adequately explain, ontologically, how the world is given to us.
Since we cannot determine the correct account, we do not know how it is that we know. However, he argues, it would be wrong to see this as grounds for calling into question that we know or what we know. Indeed, there are many things that we know perfectly well, despite our inability to say how we know them. Moore claims that he knows these and many other propositions to be certainly and wholly true ; and one of the other propositions that Moore claims to know with certainty is that others have also known the aforementioned propositions to be true of themselves, just as he knows them to be true of himself.
By claiming that these propositions of common sense hereafter CS propositions are certainly true, Moore means to oppose the skeptic who would deny that we know anything with certainty. By claiming that CS propositions are wholly true, he means to oppose the Idealist, who would claim that no statement about some isolated object can be true simpliciter , since each object has its identity only as a part of the whole universe.
But Moore thinks that to call things into question this way is perverse; and, far from being the task of philosophy, it actually undermines that task. For even the skeptic tacitly assents to the truth of CS propositions, at least in referring to himself as a philosopher, by making references to other philosophers with whom he may disagree, and so on:. Moore ; in , Either that or he is using terms in something other than their ordinary senses, in which case his claims have no bearing on the commonsense view of the world.
Since the bounds of intelligibility seem to be fixed by the ordinary meanings of CS propositions, the job of the philosopher begins by accepting them as starting points for philosophical reflection. Then, the philosopher questions not their truth, but what Moore calls their correct analysis.
Giving an analysis resembles giving a definition, and in fact it is very difficult to say what distinguishes the two. For Moore, the difference is ontological: But both involve setting forth two terms that are supposed to mean the same, one of which is supposed to elucidate the other. In definition these are the definiendum the term being defined and the definiens the term doing the defining ; in analysis, they are the analysandum the term being analyzed and the analysans the term doing the analyzing.
The difference cannot be determined just be looking. In any case, it is as analyses of CS propositions that views like direct realism, indirect realism, sense-data theory, phenomenalism, and the like have their place in philosophy. These views should not, according to Moore, disqualify or in any way challenge the commonsense view of the world, but only give us a deeper understanding of what it is to have a sensory experience, or to think a thought, etc. Using it in accordance with that meaning, presenting the hand for inspection is sufficient proof that the proposition is true—that there is indeed a hand there.
Ditto for the other hand. Some misunderstood the latter as an attempt to disprove skepticism. Taken this way, it is clearly a miserable failure. However, as Moore himself later insisted, he never meant to disprove skepticism, but only to prove the existence of the external world:. But with regard to the second of the two propositions …. I do not think I have ever implied that it could be proved to be false in any such simple way … Moore b, Wittgenstein put the point bluntly: By stonewalling the skeptic in this way, Moore was in effect refusing to recognize that, lacking a plausible, direct realist account of cognition, there are legitimate grounds for questioning the truth of CS propositions.
If it is possible that direct realism is false, then it is possible that none of our experiences connect us with the commonsense world. Thus, we have no indubitable evidence for there being such a world, and, supposing there are such things as CS propositions and their ordinary meanings, it is possible that they fail to represent reality accurately.
Or so the objection goes. Whereas the ontology of cognition deals with the problem of how we know, criteriology deals with the problem of what we know, in the sense of what we are justified in believing. On this view, then, the issue is not whether commonsense realism is certainly true and skepticism certainly false; rather, the issue is what we ought to believe or regard as true given that we can neither prove nor disprove either position. Consider a standard sort of skeptical argument:.
Both arguments are valid, but only one can be sound. Since both accept the conditional 1 , the question of soundness comes down to the question of whether S or CS is true. And here Moore and the skeptic would be at an impasse, except that according to Moore we have more reason to believe any proposition of common sense than any skeptical proposition.
That is because every skeptical proposition worth its salt is going to rest on some speculative account of the ontology of cognition that puts a mental surrogate such as a proposition or a sense-datum in place of what we would normally say was the object of our experience. But, given the highly uncertain nature of theories in the ontology of cognition, we are wise to treat them and claims based on them as all legitimate skeptical claims are with suspicion, and to refuse to let them bear too much weight in our decisions about what to believe.
Thus, we should always end up on the side of commonsense. And even though he admits to agreeing with Russell that direct realism is likely false, Moore nonetheless advocates rejecting S:. I do not think it is rational to be as certain of any one of these…propositions, as of the proposition that I do know that this is a pencil. What is not clear is just what the source of justification for CS is supposed to be.
In this case, at least, the shift seems to involve an appeal to a criterion of justification—and of rationality—that is not affected by the fact that we lack an adequate account of cognition. But Moore never tells us exactly what this criterion is. Since Moore, it has been the norm to attempt to do criteriology apart from the ontology of cognition, and the question about the criterion or criteria for justification remains a central matter of debate.
Moore a, , b, and Despite being vastly outnumbered by his writings on epistemology and metaphysics, his work in ethics was just as influential. It had a profound impact in both philosophy and culture almost immediately upon its publication. In it, Moore lays out a version of ethical realism consistent with his early propositional realism and its attendant doctrines.
Combined with his view that ordinary objects are identical to true existential propositions, this implies that ordinary objects which possess value do so intrinsically: Ethical propositions, then, differ from non-ethical ones only in virtue of the kinds of concepts they involve. For something to be ontologically simple which is the sense in question here is for it to possess no parts, to admit of no divisions or distinctions in its own constitution.
A simple is not made up out of anything, and thus cannot be broken down into anything. Simples are therefore unanalyzable. On this account, any ethical theory that attempts to define the good—and nearly all of them do—errs. He also offers two alternative characterizations of the natural. The first is in terms of temporality, the second in terms of the capacity for independent existence in time this latter applies specifically to properties. Neither is it a matter of mistaking the empirical and the scientific for the non-empirical and non-scientific.
This description might apply to hedonistic views that equate good with pleasure, since pleasure can be treated as an object of empirical study either for psychology or physiology. However, Moore means to charge even metaphysical theories of ethics—such as those of Aristotle, Aquinas and Kant—with commiting the naturalistic fallacy cf.
Actions, for Moore, possess value only instrumentally, insofar as they are productive of good consequences. They differ in meaning only insofar as the secondary details of the causal situation differ: Instead, it is said to be ideal. This means that many different kinds of objects can have intrinsic value—not just states of pleasure, as the classic utilitarians have it. Both definitions assume that possible outcomes states of affairs can be ranked in respect of their degrees of value.
This is made explicit in Chapter 6 of the Principia , where Moore articulates his conception of an ideal state of affairs. Ideal utilitarianism, therefore, will be a brand of utilitarianism in which actions are to be ordered not to the greatest happiness or pleasure, but to those states of affairs possessing the highest degree of good. Indeed, as Moore has set things up, duty will always be directed toward some ideal state toward the state with the highest degree of good.
Thus, to know which states are ideal, and, more specifically, which are most valuable and hence the most ideal, is crucial for practical ethics. According to Moore, the most valuable states we know of are the pleasures of personal relationships and aesthetic enjoyment. Within the academy, non-cognitive theories of ethics dominated until nearly It was essentially this view—albeit given a linguistic twist—that provided the theme upon which the most prominent ethical theories of the early- to mids counted as so many variations.
This began with the logical positivist treatment of ethics. If a proposition cannot be verified empirically, it is thereby revealed as meaningless. Still, ethical discourse obviously plays an important role in human life. According to the logical positivists, this was to be explained by treating ethical propositions not as statements of fact, but as expressions of emotion. In emotivisim this claim was extended to all ethical discourse. Such alternatives came from Stuart Hamphire , J. Urmson , Stephen Toulmin , and R. British and American philosophers began to part ways with the Moorean disjunction only in the late s and early s, due largely to the work of Elizabeth Anscombe Anscombe and Phillipa Foot , , Bloomsbury was a group of avant-garde writers, artists, and intellectuals that proved to be immensely influential in culture beyond the academy.
Many of the Bloomsbury men were also members of the Cambridge Apostles, and had first met each other and Moore in that context. Moore had been elected to this secret student society in The closest he comes to the topic is in discussing social conventions about chastity as an example of rules that might, under certain circumstances, be suspended Moore a, ch. It is not a theoretical weakness, but a practical one.
However, because it is unverifiable, intuition can be used to justify anything. This is the practical problem with intuitionist ethics. Moore is usually regarded as an important methodological innovator. In fact his method of philosophical analysis is supposed to have been a formative inspiration for the analytic movement in philosophy. I do not think that the world or the sciences would ever have suggested to me any philosophical problems.
What has suggested philosophical problems to me is things which other philosophers have said about the world or the sciences. He rightly notes that Moore attempted to develop no grand system of philosophy, but worked instead in a few specific areas, for example, ethics, perception, and philosophical method. In his reply to McGill, however, Moore rejects this idea:. McGill suggests that the reason why I have not dealt with some of these other questions may have been that I was wedded to certain particular methods, and that these methods were not suitable for dealing with them.
But I think I can assure him that this was not the case. I started discussing certain kinds of questions, because they happened to be what interested me most; and I only adopted certain particular methods so far as I had adopted them because they seemed to me suitable for those kinds of questions. I had no preference for any method….
In a sense, then, Moore did not have a method. Second, in tackling one of these isolated problems, it would involve the attempt to get very clear on what was meant by the propositions and concepts essential to stating the problem—in other words, the propositions and concepts would have to be analyzed. Likewise with the propositions and concepts involved in the answer or possible answers. Though his early views about truth and propositions provided a necessary metaphysical and epistemological departure from British Idealism, these merely facilitated the rise of analytic philosophy.
How, then, did this misunderstanding arise? In a particularly glaring example from Principia Ethica , Moore identifies the object of his of study in clearly grammatical terms: With characteristic humility, Moore was quick to count himself as partially responsible for the linguistic interpretation of his method.
Though the linguistic interpretation of Moore persisted until well after his death, recent scholarship has continued to hammer the point home that this is a mistake, and the message seems to have finally been heard.
It cannot be doubted that Moore was one of the most influential philosophers of the early twentieth century. It is peculiar, though, that his influence seems to have had little to do with his actual views. Though his early views about truth and propositions influenced Bertrand Russell for a time, they have long since ceased to play a role in mainstream philosophical discussions. The same can be said of his views in ethics and, except in the very general respects mentioned by Soames, philosophical methodology. And yet Moore himself was revered by all.
Warnock, for instance, would seem to agree with Levy when he says:. He was not, and never had the least idea that he was, a much cleverer man than McTaggart … or Bradley. It was in point of character that he was different, and importantly so. Foremost among his virtues were his unwavering honesty and his devotion to clarity and truth.
He was never afraid to admit an error. He gave no appearance of trying to promote either himself or his own agenda or system.
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This was remarkably refreshing in a context dominated by a philosophical system that had achieved the status of orthodoxy. He held both himself and others to exacting intellectual standards while at the same time exhibiting a spirit of great generosity and kindness in his personal relationships. He gave us courage not by making concessions, but by making no concessions to our youth or our shyness.
He treated us as corrigible and therefore as responsible thinkers. He would explode at our mistakes and muddles with just that genial ferocity with which he would explode at the mistakes and muddles of philosophical high-ups, and with just the genial ferocity with which he would explode at mistakes and muddles of his own. For instance, Leonard Woolf a member of Bloomsbury and the Apostles recalls:.
There was in him an element which can, I think, be accurately called greatness, a combination of mind and character and behaviour, of thought and feeling, which made him qualitatively different from anyone else I have ever known. I recognize it in only one or two of the many famous dead men whom Ecclesiaasticus and others enjoin us to praise for one reason or another. George Edward Moore — G. As he later reminisced: Moore died in Cambridge on October 24, He is buried in St.