Item 66 - Letter from J.R. Mozley to J.B. Mayor

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Letter from J.R. Mozley to J.B. Mayor


  • 21 Apr 1904 (Creation)

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Thanks Mayor for returning his MS. Claims that if he had been confident enough in his memory to serve Mayor's or Nora Sidgwick's purpose regarding 'the philosophical discussions at Trumpington' he would have answered him before. Is confused about dates, but states that he has little doubt that he first went to Professor Grote's house to listen to, and occasionally read, philosophical papers in the October term of 1863. States that the only other people who attended these meetings at this time were Henry Sidgwick, 'John Venn of Caius, and Pearson of St John's'. Describes the attributes of each of those who attended, and remarks that Sidgwick obviously preferred ethics to metaphysics, and recalls [Professor] Alfred Marshall emphasising his admiration of this side of Sidgwick very soon after he made his acquaintance. Refers to Sidgwick's opinion of Kant and Hegel, and to the intuitionalism 'which in the end he united with his utilitarianism'. Is uncertain as to whether he gave any measure of assent to the first fundametal proposition of 'Ferrier's Institutes of Metaphysics'

Wishes that he could remember more of the actual papers that Sidgwick read to the Philosophical Society, which was, after Grote's death, called the Grote Society, but has the impression that 'they were tentatives towards the kind of line which he afterwards took in the Methods of Ethics'. Refers also to Sidgwick's attitude to metaphysics. Believes that J.S. Mill was the philosopher whom he always admired and trusted the most. Holds, however, that he changed his view of Mill between 1863 and 1873, citing his reaction to Mill's Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, and to Fitzjames Stephen's attack on Mill in Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

Refers to Grote's view of ethics and metaphysics, and to his Treatise on the Moral Ideals, and to the similarities between him and Sidgwick. Refers also to other members of the society, such as Henry Jackson and Maurice. Recalls Sidgwick's good opinion of Venn, who was a great admirer of Mill, and names other members of the society, such as W. K. Clifford and T. W. Levin. Recalls also that when he [Mozley] went to Clifton in September 1864, Sidgwick wrote to somebody, referring to him as 'the first original a priori philosopher that has trod the streets of Cambridge for many a day'. Does not think that Herbert Spencer was ever a great favourite in the society, but had himself a great respect for him 'as the founder of the theory of evolution.' Adds that when 'the old crow, who could count up to five, but not beyond, once came before the Grote Society', Sidgwick 'was unkind enough to doubt his existence' and none of the rest of them could give evidence for him.

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ADD.MS.c/104/68: Letter, 28 Apr 1904, from J. B. Mayor to Nora Sidgwick, in which the present letter was sent as an enclosure.

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