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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.