George Edward Moore

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moore, George Edward


Born Nov. 4, 1873, in London; died Oct. 24, 1958, in Cambridge. British idealist philosopher. Professor at Cambridge University (1925–39) and fellow of the British Academy. Editor of the philosophical journal Mind (1921–47).

In his article “The Refutation of Idealism” (1903), Moore criticized subjective idealism and British neo-Hegelianism, which, in his view, equated reality with experience. He gave an analysis of sensations, which led to his foundation of neorealism. According to Moore, sensations comprise two elements, namely, consciousness, which unifies sensations, and the object, which differentiates sensations from each other. Adopting the Scottish common sense school’s positions, Moore deemed it necessary to recognize the existence of an object as independent of consciousness; however, common sense did not rule out the possibility of believing in the spiritual nature of existence or in the next world. The concept of the object in Moore’s philosophy has a dual character: it is both a physical thing and a neutral—as posited by the Austrian philosopher and physicist E. Mach—sense datum, which is a part of the external manifestations of physical things. Moore regarded consciousness as a particular activity of the subject, consisting in the direct apprehension of sense data. When they enter consciousness, sense data take on a mental or ideal character; when they leave a cognitive relationship, they take on a material character. Thus, in Moore’s philosophy, material things per se are practically inaccessible to cognition. Moore devoted much attention to the analysis of ordinary language; his ideas later became the basis for linguistic philosophy.

In ethics, Moore held intuitionistic views. He contended that preceding philosophers had committed a “naturalistic fallacy” in identifying good with some other object or quality; for example, the utilitarians identified good with usefulness, while the hedonists identified it with pleasure. From Moore’s point of view, good is an independent quality of existence that is perceived intuitively and does not lend itself to any definition; man’s duty is to follow this intuitively perceived good.


Principia ethica. Cambridge, 1903.
Ethics. London, 1912.
Philosophical Studies. London, 1920.
Some Main Problems of Philosophy. London-New York, 1958.
Philosophical Papers. London-New York, 1959.


Bogomolov, A. S. Filosofiia anglo-amerikanskogo neorealizma. Moscow, 1962.
Hill, T. E. Sovremennye teorii poznaniia. Moscow, 1965. Chapter 6. (Translated from English.)
The Philosophy of G. E. Moore. Edited by P. A. Schilpp. Evanston-Chicago, 1942.
White, A. R. C. E. Moore: A Critical Exposition. Oxford, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(2.) G.E. MOORE, PRINCIPIA ETHICA 69 (University Press, Cambridge 1993).
Strangely, Proops does not mention the antecedents of 5.132 in "Notes on Logic" and "Notes Dictated to G.E. Moore." In general he takes "these texts to have a particular authority," since "Wittgenstein regarded them--in contrast to the Notebooks--as having the status of finished works" (xxi).
This belief came largely from his youthful interpretation of G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica in which goodness was seen as an all-important attribute, but an attribute which could not be defined, and was consequently reliant on personal interpretation each time it occurred.
They discussed aesthetic and philosophical questions in a spirit of agnosticism and were strongly influenced by G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica (1903) and by A.N.
The importance of the 1938 essay, one commented on by almost all participants in this literature, is that by different interpretations it represents either the key to understanding how Keynes took G.E. Moore's idealistic ethical notions into the arena of economics and politics, or the rejection of Moore's "religion" altogether by the later Keynes.
Arguing that Bloomsbury's response to radio comes right from the heart of G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica (1903), particularly its claim that illuminating conversation is the highest ethical activity, Avery is unrestrained in his attribution of right and revolutionary motives to the moderns' attempts to influence the nature of radio broadcast.
(I borrow this idea from Peter Unger, "The Cone Model of Knowledge", Philosophical Topics, 1986, who uses it to explain why epistemological skepticism can be made to look compelling (Descartes) or incredible (G.E. Moore).) In sum, incompatibilists should reject the way that Frankfurt and Fischer frame the problem: they should not agree that Jones is morally responsible and that truncated alternative possibilities permit this, but that Jones is not morally responsible unless he has the alternative possibilities that determinism would take away.
The son of classicist and Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore, the young Moore published an important literary review, Seven (1938-40), while a Cambridge undergraduate.
The authors are equally at home in modern work in analytic philosophy, G.E. Moore and Goodman and Kripke, as in the religious sources of their own tradition, and effectively use the one to illuminate and elucidate the other.