Hocking, William Ernest

Hocking, William Ernest

Hocking, William Ernest, 1873–1966, American idealist philosopher, b. Cleveland, grad. Harvard (B.A., 1901; Ph.D., 1904). He was professor of philosophy at Harvard from 1914 until his retirement in 1943. His writings, which emphasize in particular the religious aspects of philosophy, include The Meaning of God in Human Experience (1912), Human Nature and Its Remaking (1923), The Lasting Elements of Individualism (1937), Science and the Idea of God (1944), The Coming World Civilization (1956), and The Meaning of Immortality in Human Experience (1957).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hocking, William Ernest


Born Aug. 10, 1873, in Cleveland, Ohio; died June 12, 1966, in Madison, N.H. American idealist philosopher, adherent of personalism.

Hocking was a professor at the University of California from 1906 to 1908, at Yale from 1908 to 1914, and at Harvard from 1914 to 1943. According to Hocking, the world is a collection of ideal substances (human consciousnesses that are part of the Absolute) that constitute the world consciousness, as a result of which they are able to communicate with each other. Each individual is an active source that creates reality. At the same time, the cause of this creativity is the Supreme Being, or god. Hocking believed that any body of teachings which excluded a deity was false. In his Science and the Idea of God (1944), Hocking attempted to show that science cognizes only the particular and that the universal can only be reached through religious experience. The individual cannot get along without god because the atheistic world view inevitably leads to the recognition of the senselessness of existence; human society cannot get along without god because in rejecting god it inevitably deifies the will of certain individuals. The association of elements of objective and subjective idealism is characteristic of Hocking.


The Meaning of God in Human Experience. New York, 1912.
Man and the State. New Haven, 1926.
Types of Philosophy. Chicago-New York, 1929.
Thoughts on Death and Life. New York, 1937.
What Man Can Make of Man. New York, 1942.
Experiment in Education. New York, 1954.
The Strength of Men and Nations. New York, 1959.


Bogomolov, A. S. Burzhuaznaia filosofiia SShA XXveka. Moscow, 1974.
Burzhuaznaia filosofiia XX veka. Moscow, 1974, Chapter 8.
Philosophy, Religion and the Coming World Civilization: Essays in Honor of W. E. Hocking. Edited by L. S. Rouner. The Hague, 1966.


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

Hocking, William Ernest

(1873–1966) philosopher; born in Cleveland, Ohio. Born into a devout family of modest means, he spent a decade working his way through college, then studied philosophy at Harvard under Josiah Royce and others. His 1904 dissertation grew into his major work, The Meaning of God in Human Experience (1912), which expounded a religiously oriented idealistic metaphysics opening toward mysticism; he also wrote on political philosophy, notably in The Spirit of World Politics (1932). After teaching at Yale (1908–14) and elsewhere, he spent most of his career at Harvard (1914–43); during a long retirement in the New Hampshire countryside he continued to philosophize.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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