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McTaggart, John McTaggart Ellis (1866–1925)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD041-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

McTaggart was one of the last of the ‘British Idealists’, the group of British philosophers, such as B. Bosanquet and F.H. Bradley, who took their inspiration from Hegel. In his early writings from the 1890s, McTaggart gave a critical exposition of themes from Hegel’s logic before advancing his own distinctive idealist positions concerning time, the mind, and reality in general. But in his writings from 1910 he developed an independent account of the structure of existence from which he then argued for the same idealist positions as before.

The thesis for which McTaggart is now most famous is that of the unreality of time; what is even more difficult to come to terms with is his thesis that the ultimate reality of the world comprises a community of selves wholly constituted by their loving perceptions of each other. This thesis is a manifestation of a mysticism that is an essential element in McTaggart’s philosophy; yet this mysticism is combined with a rationalist determination, reminiscent of Spinoza, to vindicate mystical insights by the light of pure reason alone.

Citing this article:
Baldwin, Thomas. McTaggart, John McTaggart Ellis (1866–1925), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD041-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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