F. H. Bradley

British philosopher

Francis Herbert Bradley (30 January 184618 September 1924) was a British idealist philosopher.


  • Of Optimism I have said that "The world is the best of all possible worlds, and everything in it is a necessary evil."
    • Appearance and Reality, preface (1893).
  • Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.
    • Appearance and Reality, preface (1893).
  • The man whose nature is such that by one path alone his chief desire will reach consummation will try to find it on that path, whatever it may be, and whatever the world thinks of it; and if he does not, he is contemptible.
    • Reported by Brand Blanshard in 'Francis Herbert Bradley', Journal of Philosophy (1925).
  • I will begin with the self-styled "Christian" party, who profess to base their morality on the New Testament. But whether it is really more Christian to follow or to ignore the teachings of the Gospels I shall not discuss.
    • The Limits of Individual and National Self-Sacrifice.

Aphorisms (1930)

  • Eclecticism. Every truth is so true that any truth must be false.
    • No. 6.
  • The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one’s own mind.
    • No. 8.
  • True penitence condemns to silence. What a man is ready to recall he would be willing to repeat.
    • No. 10.
  • There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us.
    • No. 20.
  • It is by a wise economy of nature that those who suffer without change, and whom no one can help, become uninteresting. Yet so it may happen that those who need sympathy the most often attract it the least.
    • No. 22.
  • We say that a girl with her doll anticipates the mother. It is more true, perhaps, that most mothers are still but children with playthings.
    • No. 23.
  • Our live experiences, fixed in aphorisms, stiffen into cold epigrams. Our heart’s blood, as we write it, turns to mere dull ink.
    • No. 25.
  • The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring. And that is not happiness.
    • No. 33.
  • One said of suicide, “As long as one has brains one should not blow them out.” And another answered, “But when one has ceased to have them, too often one cannot.”
    • No. 48.
  • The man who has ceased to fear has ceased to care.
    • No. 63.
  • The deadliest foe to virtue would be complete self-knowledge.
    • No. 68.
  • The force of the blow depends on the resistance. It is sometimes better not to struggle against temptation. Either fly or yield at once.
    • No. 75.
  • There are those who so dislike the nude that they find something indecent in the naked truth.
    • No. 88.
  • “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived.” It is a pity that this is still the only knowledge of their wives at which some men seem to arrive.
    • No. 94.
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