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Leonard Hobhouse on Self-Realization - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 415
Self-realization/Hobhouse/Weinstein: New liberals joined Bosanquet in combining a moralized theory of freedom and strong rights with a communitarian social ontology. >Liberty/Bosanquet.
For Green, Ritchie, Hobhouse and Hobson, moral self-realization was unconditionally good. Realizing oneself morally meant being fully free by being both 'out- ward[ly]' and 'inward[ly]' free (Green, 1986(1): 234—5). It meant having the enabling 'positive power or capacity of doing ... something worth doing' and actually 'doing ... something worth doing' (1986(1): 199).
Self-realization/Hobhouse: As Hobhouse put it, self-realization consists in 'social' as well as 'moral'
freedom. Whereas the former concerns external harmony between citizens or 'freedom of man in society', the latter is 'proportionate to the [self'sl] internal harmony' (Hobhouse, 1949(2): 51, 57).*
Self-realization/liberalism: For new liberals as well, rights indirectly promoted everyone's self-realization by enabling each to flourish. And to the extent that each flourished morally, each, in turn, promoted common good by respecting the rights of others. Thus, for Hobhouse, common good was 'the foundation of all personal rights' (1968(3): 198).
In Green's words, rights realize our moral capacity negatively by 'securing the treatment of one man by another as equally free with himself, but they do not realise positively, because their possession does not imply that the individual makes a common good his own' (1986(1): 26).
New Liberalism: However, new liberals favoured a more robust threshold of equalizing opportunity rights. Although they concurred with Bosanquet that possessing property was a potent means of 'self-utterance' and therefore crucial to successfully externalizing and realizing ourselves, they also stipulated that private property was legitimate only in so far as it did not
Gaus I 416
subvert equal opportunity.
Hobson: In Hobson's words, 'A man is not really free for purposes of self-development who is not adequately provided' with equal and easy access to land, a home, capital and credit. Hobson concludes that although liberalism is not state socialism, it nevertheless implies considerably 'increased public ownership and control of industry' (1974(4): xii).ll New liberals, then, transformed English liberalism by making social welfare, and the state's role in promoting it, pivotal. They crafted welfare liberalism into a sophisticated theoretical alternative.**

* Also see Ritchie (1895(5): 430). Ritchie's new liberalism eclectically blends utilitarianism, neo-Hegelianism and Darwinism. >Individualism/Ritchie.

** Idealists, like Jones and >Collingwood, similarly favoured vigorously expanding equal opportunities through government.


1. Green, T. H. (1986 [1895]) Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation and Other Essays, eds Paul Harris and John Morrow. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 194-212.
2. Hobhouse, L. T. (1949 [1922]) The Elements of Social Justice. London: Allen and Unwin.
3. Hobhouse, L. T. (1968 [1911]) Social Evolution and Political Thought. Port Washington: Kennikat.
4. Hobson, J. A. (1974 [1909]) The Crisis of Liberalism. Brighton: Barnes and Noble.
5. Ritchie, D. G. (1895) 'Free-will and responsibility'. International Journal of Ethics, 5: 409-31.

Weinstein, David 2004. „English Political Theory in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Hobhouse, Leonard
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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