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Anderson, John (1893–1962)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD003-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Arguing against metaphysical ‘ultimates’ (that is, supposed unconditioned conditions of things), relative truth, appeals to subjective experience, and opposing some of the main tendencies of twentieth-century philosophy, Anderson developed a wide-ranging realist and empiricist philosophy. Highly critical of religion, he was much concerned with other cultural values and advanced views (influential in Australia) on freedom of thought, education, ethics and aesthetics. In ethics, for example, his view is that objective good is not good because it is approved of by certain people; rather those who approve of good (or have other relations to it) do so because it is good. He carefully distinguished questions about the intrinsic character of good from those about relations social groups may have to it, and goes on to develop an account of intrinsic goods as certain socio-mental activities: enterprise or freedom, objective inquiry, artistic production and appreciation, love and courage.

Similarly, in aesthetics he distinguishes characteristics of works of art from possible relations between artists, works, appreciators and critics, such as a work’s relation to a writer’s intentions. In Anderson’s view the character and structure of the work itself alone provides an aesthetic criterion for assessing the merit of works of art.

Citing this article:
Baker, A.J.. Anderson, John (1893–1962), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD003-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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