George Edward Moore

George Edward Moore
(1873-11-04 - 1958-10-24)


For understanding of Moore's "truths of common sense" lets look first so called "Concept of classical knowledge":

X knows that p if and only if
a) X believes (is convinced) that p
b) X have competent ground claim that p
c) p is true

G.E. Moore claimed that is existing certain "truths of common sense" (like an assertion about an existence of world outside the consciousness); these truths have "evidences" which we, however, don't know, in other words they fulfill paragraphs a) and c).

Moore began his ethics by proposing exactly what "good" is not. He did this by forming the Open Question Argument, showing that the assumed definition of "good" is incorrect due to an inability to localize "good".

His argument could also be structured as such:

1) "X is good" = "X has property P"
2) X has P, but is X good? (are things that have P good?)
3) X has P, but does it have P? (do things that have P have P?)

Mind Online from 1876

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Archive of All Online Issues: 1876 - July 2006.
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George Edward Moore

(1873-11-04 - 1958-10-24)

Short biography
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Moore's attitude to the classical "problem of the external world" underwent a transformation parallel to his theory of the truth. "To say that a thing is relative", he roundly asserts in his article "Relative and Absolute" in Baldwin's Dictionary, "is always to contradict yourself". By this he didn't mean that relations in themselves, as Bradley had thought, are self-contra-dictionary. Moore is here defending "external" relations, as against the theory of "internal" relations which he ascribes to the British Idealists. Moore chose as the epigraph to Principia Ethica one quotation from Joseph Butler (1692-1752): "everything is what it is and not another thing", a quotation which summarizes the character of his opposition to the monism.

In the year 1903 Moore's article "The Refutation of Idealism" and in the same year published Russell's "Principles of Mathematics" did signify setting aside Hegelianism in Britain and a new analytic philosophy came instead of it.

While dealing with G.E. Moore's philosophy, it is worth mentioning that Russel's early metaphysics derived from Moore. "On fundamental questions of philosophy" Russell wrote in "The Principles of Mathematics": "my position, in all its chief features, is derived from Mr G.E. Moore. I have accepted from him the non-existential nature of propositions (except such as happen to assert existence) and their independence of any knowing mind - also the pluralism which regards the world, both that of existents and that of entities, as composed of an infinite number of mutually independent entities, with relations which are ultimate and not reducible to adjectives of their terms or of the whole which these compose."

Cambridge University Press

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