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Friday, July 19, 2019

G.E. Moore – his life and work – Philosopher of the Month | Philosophy - Oxford University Press

G.E. Moore (1873-1958) was a British philosopher, who alongside Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein at Trinity College, Cambridge, was a key protagonist in the formation of the analytic tradition during the twentieth century by OUP Philosophy Team

“Bicycle and a brick wall” by Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash.
One of seven children, Moore grew up in South London and was educated initially by his parents. He was taught French by his mother, and reading, writing, and music by his father. Aged eight he enrolled at Dulwich College studying a mix of classic and romance languages, alongside mathematics, and at eighteen commenced study at Cambridge University reading classics. It was at Cambridge that Moore met Bertrand Russell (two years his senior) and Philosophy Fellow of Trinity College, J.M.E. McTaggart who together, encouraged Moore to study philosophy. Moore graduated in 1896. A fellowship kept him at Cambridge for the next six years.

During his time at Cambridge, Moore formed a number of long-lasting friendships with figures of the soon to be Bloomsbury Group. These friendships allowed Moore a channel of indirect influence on twentieth-century culture, leading in part to the encouragement of his reputation of having a Socratic personality; his written work did not necessarily capture his full thought. Moore would remain at Cambridge almost without leave – but for a short spell away and later a handful of years spent in the US – becoming first lecturer in 1911, then professor in 1925 before retiring in 1939. During this time, Moore was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1918, President of the Aristotelian Society from 1918 to 1919, and in 1921 became editor of the highly-influential journal Mind...

In 1903, Moore published Principia Ethica in which he laid out his criticism of ethical naturalism, arguing that it involves the naturalistic fallacy that goodness can be defined in naturalistic terms. He argued that goodness is in actuality indefinable, unanalysable, and non-natural property. Principa Ethica was hugely influential, sending ripples through non-philosophical circles – including the literary world of the Bloomsbury Group where members including Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, and Leonard Woolf had come into contact with him as fellow members of the Cambridge University secret debating society the Cambridge Apostles – as well within philosophy. The 1903 work has been frequently cited as one of the most influential works of its type and time, though in recent times this claim is somewhat down-played.

Source: Oxford University Press