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Ernest Belfort Bax

(1854—1926) Marxist theoretician and activist


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Ernest Belfort Bax was born in Leamington on 23 July 1854 and died on 26 November 1926. He briefly attended a school in Hampstead, but was mostly educated by private tutors, before going to the Stuttgart Conservatorium to study music. Although he soon gave up the idea of being a composer, becoming, instead, an assistant reporter in Berlin for the Standard, he developed a lifelong interest in philosophy while in Germany. His philosophical guide was Edward von Hartmann, with whom he had lengthy discussions about idealist metaphysics. Earlier Bax had been inspired by the Paris Commune, taking from it the lesson, ‘the highest and indeed only true religion for human beings was that which had for its object devotion to the future social life of Humanity’ (Reminiscences, p. 29). Back in London, Bax mixed with French exiles and socialists who appear to have introduced him to the work of Karl Marx. In 1881 he wrote one of the first sympathetic pieces on Marx to appear in English for Modern Thought. Thereafter his philosophy sought to bridge idealism, positivism and Marxism. It was a mix very different from the evangelical liberalism of his family.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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