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My new friend Hegel

By Michael Prowse   August 2003

One of the endearing features of Wilkie Collins’s novel The Moonstone is the way the author pokes gentle fun at his hero Franklin Blake, who has the disadvantage of a continental education. Steeped in German philosophy, Blake baffles his English friends by distinguishing between the “objective” and “subjective” aspects of problems, and complains of a “curious want of system” in the English mind.

A Victorian novelist’s dismissal of German philosophy as “foreign gibberish” would be mildly amusing but for the fact that cultural prejudices are nearly as pronounced today as in the 1860s. I should know because I once shared…

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