[Mariko Okuno Nakano quit Kyushu University and is now in Los Angeles, USA.]

1838.5.31 Born at Skipton in Yorkshire. His father, William, was a headmaster of Skipton Grammer School and died in 1841, when Henry was three years old.

1852 (Age 14) Went to Rugby School.

It is said that he was greatly influenced by his second cousin and then a master at Rugby, Edward White Benson (who afterwards became the husband of Henry's sister and also an archbishop of Canterbury), who taught him the charm of classical literature and also induced him to think about religion.

1855 (Age 17) Entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Won many scholarships.

1859 (Age 21) Graduated from Trinity, and became a fellow and assistant tutor of this college.

Around this time he joined in the discussion society named 'The Apostles', where he learned how to discuss various topics in a frank and impartial manner. He also read J. S. Mill and was interested in Mill's rational and scientific way of re-constructing ethics.

1862 (Age 24) Stimulated by Renan's Etudes d'histoire religieuse, he turned to the study of religious history. He studied Arabic and Hebrew for three years, but gradually noticed that this sort of historical study did not solve fundamental problems such as the credibility of religious doctrines. Then he turned back to philosophy.

During this period, he participated in several societies. Among them were the 'Grote Club', where he dined and discussed with John Grote and others , the Metaphysical Society, where he argued with Huxley, Dr. Martineau and others, and 'Ad Eundem' Society, where Leslie Steven, W. H. Thompson and W. G. Clark were active.

1869 (Age 31) Got a position of a lecturer of moral philosophy. But four months later he resigned his fellowship at Trinity, because of his opposition to the religious declaration imposed by this college. The influence of this was great, and such religious tests were abolished two years later.

1874 (Age 36) The Methods of Ethics. 2nd edition in 1877, 3rd 1884, 4th 1890, 5th 1893, 6th 1901, 7th 1907

In the same year he founded a company to raise money for the education of women.

1875 (Age 37) Became praelector on moral and political philosophy in Trinity.

1876 (Age 38) Opened the Newnham Hall, a residence hall for women. Married Eleanor Mildred Balfour.

1882 (Age 44) Became the first president of the British Society for Psychical Research, and encouraged a wide range of statistical investigation of psychical phenomena.

1883 (Age 45) Principles of Political Economy.

Then he was elected to the Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy

1891 (Age 53) The Elements of Politics.

1900.8.28 (Age 62) Passed away at Terling Place, Essex.


August 14, 1998. (c) Mariko Okuno.

Note: For the materials in these notes, I owe to the following literature:

Stephen, Leslie, "Henry Sidgwick", Mind, N.S., Vol.X, 1901:1-17.

Blanshard, Brand, "Sidgwick the Man", The Monist, Vol.58, No.3, 1974:349-370.

E. E. Constance Jones, "Sidgwick (Henry)", Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. by J. Hastings, 1980:500-506.

[Photos from Arthur and Eleanor Sidgwick, Henry Sidgwick: A Memoir, Macmillan, 1906; reprint, Thoemmes Press, 1996; arranged by Soshichi Uchii.]

APPENDIX: Studies on Sidgwick in Japan, by Mariko OKUNO

Sidgwick's philosophy was introduced into Japan in Meiji Era (around 1890) , and was studied by Rikizo Nakajima, Iwai Onishi, Shinichiro Nishi, Ryosen Tsunashima, among others.* Kitaro Nishida is also known to have read Sidgwick's Outlines of the History of Ethics. In the meantime, Part Three of Sidgwick's The Principles of Political Economy was translated into Japanese in 1897Şiby Kinji Tajima and Kinshiro Tsuchiko, Waseda University Press), and also the 5th edition of The Methods of Ethics in 1898Şiby Tomoharu Yamabe and Shuho Ota, under the supervision of Rikizo Nakajima, Dainippon-Tosho). Further, several articles on Sidgwick appeared.

However, as T. H. Green's doctrine of self-realization and the German philosophy became dominant in Japan, interests in Sidgwick gradually faded away. During Taisho and Showa Era, we can hardly find any papers on Sidgwick, except those of Ainosuke Shimamoto and of Eijiro Kawai; both of them discussed Sidgwick in comparison with Green. After the World War II, the Japanese translation of Outlines of the History of Ethics appeared in 1951-2 (by Kazuo Takeda and Etsutomo Nagoshi, from Tounoe-Shoin).

Finally, let me briefly describe the present state of Sidgwick studies in Japan. Although we have a couple of leading figures in this field such as Prof. Shigeru Yukiyasu and Prof. Yuichi Shionoya, and a collection of essays on Sidgwick appeared recently (Studies on H. Sidgwick [in Japanese], ed. by Shigeru Yukiyasu, Ibunsya, 1992), it is still rare that Sidgwick is studied carefully. However, in view of the importance of Sidgwick, who tried a systematic and analytic approach to ethics and contributed greatly to its development, we should expect far more studies on him; this writer considers him to be at least as much worthwhile as Hare, Brandt, Rawls, and any other moral philosophers.


*For Sidgwick's influence on Nakajima, Onishi and Tsunashima, see Shigeru Yukiyasu, "The influence of Sidgwick's Ethics in Japan, and its limits" in Studies on H. Sidgwick, ch.6 [in Japanese].


August 14, 1998; Last modified, April 17, 2006. (c) Mariko OKUNO. mail

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