Brightman, Edgar Sheffield

Brightman, Edgar Sheffield

(1884–1953) philosopher; born in Holbrook, Mass. After studying at Boston University, where he was influenced by Borden Parker Bowne, and in Germany, he returned to teach at Boston University from 1919. His philosophy, systematically presented in the posthumous Person and Reality (1958), was an empirically oriented development of Bowne's personalistic theism. He is credited with having inspired many students, including Martin Luther King Jr.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brightman, Edgar Sheffield


Born Sept. 2,1884, in Holbrook; died 1953, in Boston. American idealist philosopher. Representative of personalism. Disciple of B. Bowne. Doctor of philosophy (1912), law (1929), and literature (1936). Professor at Brown University and the University of Nebraska; also a lecturer at Boston University and Harvard University.

Brightman concentrated his attention on the ethics of values (Nature and Value, 1945). The point of departure in Brightman’s philosophy is the “I personality,” conceived as a mystical self-consciousness or spiritual force. Because of its activity, expressed in the creation of values, the world acquires sense, coherence, and knowability. (See T. E. Hill, Sovremennye teorii poznaniia, translated from English, Moscow, 1965, pp. 82–83.) According to Brightman, the world’s primary substance is a personal god who is limited, however, by nonrational conditions (the Given), which are capable of engendering evil because they are not created by the divine will.


The Problem of God. New York [1930].
A Philosophy of Religion [2nd ed.]. New York [1947].
An Introduction to Philosophy. New York [1951].


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 4, book 2. Moscow, 1965. Page 76.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.