Thomas Hill Green

Colin Tyler, in a biographical sketch of T. H. Green, wrote that Green entered Balliol College, Oxford in 1855 where he came under the influence of Benjamin Jowett, who had been among the first to import a set of Hegel's writings to England; "it was through him that, probably towards the end of his undergraduate years, Green became enraptured by idealism." Jowett, the Master of Balliol, was translating the complete works of Plato and lecturing on his Dialogues during Green's education at Balliol College.

In 1866, "Green took charge of Balliol Hall where … His personal influence spread throughout the college … and he taught many undergraduates who later achieved fame, including Bernard Bosanquet, F. H. Bradley, R. L. Nettleship and Henry Scott Holland." In 1866 he was appointed to a Balliol tutorship, and was made Whyte's Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1878. Tyler also notes that "Green's pupil, Henry Scott Holland wrote of this crisis of faith and the effects of Green's religious thought upon it. —

[Many people came to believe that] Scientific Analysis held the key to the universe. Under this intellectual dominion we had lost all touch with the Ideals of life in Community. There was a dryness in the Oxford air, and there was singularly little inspiration to be felt abroad. We were frightened; we saw everything passing into the tyranny of rational abstract mechanism … Then at last, the walls began to break. A world of novel influences began to open to us. Philosophically the change in Oxford thought and temper came about mainly through the influence of T. H. Green. He broke for us the sway of individualistic Sensationalism. He released us from the fear of agnostic mechanism. He gave us back the language of self-sacrifice, and taught us how we belonged to one another in the one life of high idealism. We took life from him at its spiritual value. (quoted in Carpenter, 1959, p. 483)

Green's metaphysics were succinct. Man, he said, is self-conscious. "The simplest mental act involves consciousness of changes and of distinctions between the self and the object observed. To know, he asserted, is to be aware of relations between objects. Above man — who can know only a small portion of such relations — is God. This 'principle which renders all relations possible and is itself determined by none of them' is an eternal self-consciousness." (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

"Green based his ethics on the spiritual nature of man. He maintained that man's determination to act upon his reflections is an 'act of will' and is not externally determined by God or any other factor. According to Green, freedom is not the supposed ability to do anything desired but is the power to identify one's self with the good that reason reveals as one's own true good." (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Selected Works of T. H. Green

T. H. Green's Lay Sermons includes Witness of God and Faith.
» Read them here »

The Conversion of Paul
» Read it here »

Essay on Christian Dogma
» Read it here »

The Immortality of the Soul
» Read it here »

The Incarnation
» Read it here »

Justification by Faith
» Read it here »

Popular Philosophy in its Relation to Life (Sophistry)
» Read it here »

Prolegomena to Ethics
» Read it here »

The Word Is Nigh Thee
» Read it here »

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Thomas Hill Green
British philosopher and social theorist,
an early leader of the British Idealists.
Elected a Fellow of Balliol College, Uiversity of Oxford, 1860, Whyte's Professor of Moral Philosophy, 1878, he died at the young age of 45.




Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, "T.H. Green," Encyclopædia Britannica. March 31, 2018 [accessed March 19, 2019].

Quinton, Anthony. "Green, T. H.", International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences., March 19, 2019 [accessed March 19, 2019].

Tyler, Colin. "Thomas Hill Green," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Fall 2018 Edition [accessed March 19, 2019].

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