Abstract

This essay, as its title "The Uses of the Philosophy of G. E. Moore in the Works of E. M. Forster" indicates, examines the ways in which Moore's philosophical thought, particularly the ethical theory that was formulated at Cambridge during Forster's student years and published as Principia Ethica in 1903, influenced the writings of E. M. Forster. Specifically, aspects of both the persona and philosophy of Moore are examined in three of Forster's novels. In The Longest Journey of 1907, the doctrines of moral and metaphysical realism that Moore taught to Forster at Cambridge emerge as the major theme of engagement and contention among the characters of the novel. In Howards End of 1910, Forster symbolically projected the promise of "Moorism" (the term used by Moore's advocates in Bloomsbury) as a moral philosophy for the reform of English public life and for the resolution of the challenges of industrialization and urbanization that confronted Edwardian England. In A Passage to India of 1924, Forster used the character of Mrs. Moore to demonstrate that Moore's "method" of philosophical dialectic could be directed to rectify an injustice of imperial rule and to clarify personal relationships. Forster's continued support for Moore's approach in the domain of personal relations even as he recognized its limitations as a public philosophy in postwar society is set in this essay against John Maynard Keynes's criticism of the Bloomsbury commitment to Moore's thought as sketched in Keynes's memoir "My Early Beliefs." Aspects of Moore's thought reverberated in Forster's essays which marked his emergence as a major public advocate of anti-Nazism and liberal democracy in the 1930s and 1940s, characteristically expressed in such moderate and ironic tones of "Two Cheers for Democracy." Finally, this essay probes a fundamental dilemma in the interpretation of Forster's oeuvre. On the one hand, Forster was a lifelong advocate of the Moorian ideal of truth in personal relations, and this advocacy was realized through his vocation as an author whose novels provided a continuing quest myth in which each of the main protagonists is in pursuit of this ideal. On the other hand, Forster argues for an interpretation of himself as a modernist writer who is free of any authorial advocacy in his commitment to the ideal of art for art's sake.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 245-271
Launched on MUSE
2007-09-06
Open Access
No
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