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Definition: Hampshire, Stuart from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English philosopher. In 1970 he became Warden of Wadham College, Oxford. In his best-known work, Thought and Action (1959), he argued, against Descartes, that awareness of selfhood requires that a person possess a physical body acting in a physical world.

Professor at University College, London (1960–63), and at Princeton (1963–70). Hampshire saw human action as involving freedom, in that man has some power to decide. His ethical views were influenced by those of Spinoza, on whom he wrote a book, Spinoza (1951). His interest in literature and art, and appreciation of psychoanalytic theory, lent a broad outlook to his writings.


Summary Article: Hampshire, Sir Stuart Newton
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1914–2004, British philosopher, grad. Oxford. He taught at Oxford, University College (London), London Univ., and Princeton before joining (1984, emeritus after 1990) the faculty of Stanford. Hampshire's work includes contributions in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, and aesthetics. His approach reflects his interest in psychoanalysis, literary theory, and art criticism. From his concern with the relationship between meaning and confirmation in logic, he argued that self-knowledge depends on social interaction. At the same time he emphasized the extent to which human actions are determined by introspection. Beginning with the observation that a person's dispositions are the result of experiences in early childhood, he argued that some measure of control over those dispositions can be obtained through an understanding of their origins. The importance he placed on introspection led him to reject the strict behaviorist position (see behaviorism), favoring instead Spinoza's connection of freedom and knowledge, a connection also made in psychoanalytic theory. Consequently, he held that any theory of ethics must take account of the fact that althought human nature is historically and genetically conditioned it is also essentially revisable—because of the possibility of self-conscious intentional action. Hampshire's works include Spinoza (1951), Thought and Action (1959), Freedom of the Individual (1965); Freedom of Mind and Other Essays (1971), Morality and Conflict (1983), Innocence and Experience (1989), and Justice Is Conflict (1999). He was knighted in 1979.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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