Dickinson and McTaggart

  • S. P. Rosenbaum


Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart were older than Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore, born in the 1860s instead of the 1870s, and their Apostolic philosophical significance for the literary history of the Bloomsbury Group preceded Russell’s and Moore’s more modern influences. Dickinson’s wide-ranging liberal enthusiasms and McTaggart’s conservative intellectual rigour — which illustrate again the King’s and Trinity aspects of the Society — were balanced in close friendship until the First World War. Both were attracted to mysticism, but their philosophical attitudes toward it were very different. McTaggart wrote characteristically, ‘All true philosophy must be mystical, not indeed in its methods, but in its final conclusions’ (Dialectic, p. 259). Dickinson wanted philosophy to be mystical in its methods too.


Literary History Philosophic Writer Form Alone Common Reader Late Dialogue 
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  1. 4.
    Some Dogmas of Religion brought McTaggart a fan letter from Thomas Hardy, who wrote that in The Dynasts he was trying to sketch a negative philosophy not all that different from McTaggart’s. In addition to Hardy and Yeats, McTaggart also impressed two modern novelists in different ways. H. G. Wells mocked him in The New Machiavelli (1911) as Codger, whose ‘woven thoughts’ lay across the narrator’s perception of realities when he was his student at Cambridge (ch. 3). Wells’s antipathy may have increased the admiration of one of his writer loves, Dorothy Richardson. In Deadlock (1921), the sixth novel of Pilgrimage, she represented McTaggart in propria persona as a lecturer in philosophy who influences the heroine towards a mystical individualism (ch. 7; C. Blake, pp. 57ff.).Google Scholar

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© S. P. Rosenbaum 1987

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  • S. P. Rosenbaum

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