Appearance and Reality

Appearance and Reality (1893; second edition 1897)[1] is a book by the English philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley, in which the author, influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, argues that most things are appearances and attempts to describe the reality these appearances misrepresent, which Bradley calls the Absolute. It is the main statement of Bradley's metaphysics and is considered his most important book.[2] The work was an early influence on Bertrand Russell, who, however, later rejected Bradley's views.

Appearance and Reality
Appearance and Reality.jpg
Title page
AuthorFrancis Herbert Bradley
CountryUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint


Bradley's works were influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.[3]


Appearance and Reality is considered Bradley's most important book. According to Ronald W. Clark, its publication helped to "wrest the philosophical initiative from the Continent."[4] In 1894, the work was reviewed by J. M. E. McTaggart in Revue de métaphysique et de morale, and Josiah Royce in The Philosophical Review.[5] Appearance and Reality was an early influence on Bertrand Russell, encouraging him to question contemporary dogmas and beliefs.[4] Russell recalled that Appearance and Reality had a profound appeal not only to him but to most of his contemporaries, and that G. F. Stout had stated that Bradley "had done as much as is humanly possible in ontology." While Russell later rejected Bradley's views, he continued to regard Appearance and Reality with "the greatest respect".[6]

Richard Wollheim comments that the second edition of Appearance and Reality contains considerable new material, and should be consulted in preference to the original edition.[1] According to the British philosopher Timothy Sprigge, some of Bradley's arguments are famous. Sprigge suggests that Bradley's absolute idealism in some respects received a better presentation in Bradley's subsequent work Essays on Truth and Reality (1914) than in Appearance and Reality.[2] Thomas Mautner comments that Bradley's "bold metaphysics" is presented with "pugnacious verve".[3]


  1. ^ a b Wollheim 1969. p. 9.
  2. ^ a b Sprigge 2005. pp. 105.
  3. ^ a b Mautner 2000. p. 75.
  4. ^ a b Clark 1975. pp. 45-6.
  5. ^ Wollheim 1969. pp. 225, 228.
  6. ^ Russell 1992. pp. 42, 260.


  • Clark, Ronald W. (1975). The Life of Bertrand Russell. London: Jonathan Cape and Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0 297 77018 7.
  • Mautner, Thomas (2000). The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-140-51250-0.
  • Russell, Bertrand (1992). The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08301-X.
  • Sprigge, T. L. S. (2005). Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
  • Wollheim, Richard (1969). F. H. Bradley. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.