R.F.A. Hoernlé and Idealist Liberalism in South Africa1

  • W Sweet


This paper describes the ‘idealist liberalism’ of R.F.A. Hoernlé (1880-1843), who taught in Britain, the United States, but also at the South African College and at the University of the Witwatersrand. I argue that this liberalism was strongly influenced by the British idealism of Bernard Bosanquet and T.H. Green, but also by key features of Hoernlé's South African experience. Hoernlé's idealist liberalism, I maintain, not only offered a response to the
challenges of living in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial state such as South Africa in the first half of the 20th century, but bears on similar challenges found in contemporary liberal democracies.

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eISSN: 0258-0136