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John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography

(1866–1925), (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart), The Nature of Existence, Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Harriet Martineau Biography to John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography

British philosopher, born in London, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. An idealist philosopher concerned with developing Hegelian notions of metaphysics, religion, and personal identity, McTaggart spent his academic life in Cambridge. Eager to reinforce ‘a conviction of harmony between ourselves and the universe at large’, yet critical of conventional, institutionalized religion and of Christianity, McTaggart's main text is the dense and paradoxical The Nature of Existence (2 volumes, 1921, 1927). Like fellow idealist F. H. Bradley, who strongly influenced T. S. Eliot, McTaggart was much concerned with the philosophy of time and matter, both concepts being seen by him as illusions, or systematic misperceptions of reality. By destabilizing the notion of time, McTaggart arrived at a version of immortality, whereby individuals existed timelessly, however much their appearances changed. In the end, McTaggart employed rational processes of deduction to reach towards a mystical vision of universal love. His main arguments are extraordinarily intricate and taxing. Like other British idealist writers (T. H. Green, B. Bosanquet, and Bradley), McTaggart's influence sharply waned after the emergence of logical positivism and its vehement distrust of metaphysics. His main works include Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic (1896), Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (1901), and Some Dogmas of Religion (1906).

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