Lovejoy, Arthur Oncken

Lovejoy, Arthur Oncken

Lovejoy, Arthur Oncken, 1873–1962, American philosopher and intellectual historian, b. Germany, grad. Univ. of California, 1895, M.A. Harvard, 1897. He also studied at the Sorbonne before he began teaching (1899–1910) at Stanford, Washington Univ., Columbia, and Univ. of Missouri. From 1910 to 1938 he taught at Johns Hopkins. The founder and first editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas, Lovejoy was the chief promoter in the United States of the historiography of ideas. He made a distinction between the history of a philosophical system and the history of an idea—which may be shared by different systems and unlike the system may originate in or influence areas far removed from philosophy. His work argued for and encouraged an interdisciplinary approach in the study of philosophy, history, literature, and science. His major philosophical work was The Revolt Against Dualism (1930); The Great Chain of Being (1936) was his most influential publication on the history of ideas. His other books included Essays in the History of Ideas (1948), Reflections on Human Nature (1961), and The Reason, the Understanding, and the Time (1961).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lovejoy, Arthur Oncken


Born Oct. 10, 1873, in Berlin; died Dec. 30, 1962, in Baltimore. American idealist philosopher. Exponent of critical realism. Professor at Washington University in St. Louis (1901–08), the University of Missouri (1908–10), and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (1910–38). President of the American Philosophical Association (1916–17). Founder and editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas (1940).

Lovejoy criticized subjective idealism, the New Realism, the pragmatism of J. Dewey, and behaviorism. In his view, philosophy is inconceivable without postulating the independent existence of the external world. Lovejoy represented the cognitive process in the form of an “epistemological triangle,” including the perceiving subject (percipient), the object taken on faith (the physical world), and “sense data” which mediate the cognitive process and are identified by Lovejoy with perception. Sense data conventionally present the properties of external reality, and knowledge of these properties makes it possible for the subject to orient himself in the world. Thus, Lovejoy develops a peculiar variation of the idealist theory of symbols. Lovejoy upheld the theory of emergent evolution.


The Revolt Against Dualism. London, 1930.
The Great Chain of Being. Cambridge, Mass., 1936.
Essays in the History of Ideas. Baltimore, 1948.
The Thirteen Pragmatisms and Other Essays. Baltimore, 1963.


Bogomolov, A. Anglo-amerikanskaia burzhuaznaia filosofila epokhi imperializma. Moscow, 1964. Chap. 8, sec. 1.
Lukanov, D. M. Gnoseologiia amerikanskogo “realizma.” Moscow, 1968. Chap. 3, sec. 1–2.


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