Borden Parker Bowne

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Borden Parker Bowne
Born(1847-01-14)January 14, 1847
DiedApril 1, 1910(1910-04-01) (aged 63)
Spouse(s)Kate Morrison[1]
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Methodist)
ChurchMethodist Episcopal Church[2]
Ordained1882 (elder)[2]
Academic background
Alma materNew York University
Academic work
School or traditionBoston personalism
InstitutionsBoston University
Doctoral students
Notable studentsGeorge Albert Coe[10]
Notable worksMetaphysics (1882)

Borden Parker Bowne[a] (1847–1910) was an American Christian philosopher, clergyman,[15] and theologian in the Methodist tradition. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature nine times.


Bowne was born on January 14, 1847, near Leonardville in Monmouth County, New Jersey.[16] In 1876 he became a professor of philosophy at Boston University,[17] where he taught for more than thirty years.[citation needed] He later served as the first dean of the graduate school.[18] Bowne was an acute critic of mechanistic determinism,[15] positivism, and naturalism. He categorized his views as Kantianized Berkeleyanism, transcendental empiricism, and, finally, personalism, emphasizing freedom and the importance of the self,[19] a philosophical branch of liberal theology: of this branch Bowne is the dominant figure; this personalism is sometimes called Boston personalism, in contrast with the California personalism of George Holmes Howison.[citation needed] Bowne's magnum opus, Metaphysics, was published in 1882.[14] Bowne was chiefly[citation needed] influenced by Hermann Lotze.[20] He died on April 1, 1910, in Boston, Massachusetts.[21]


Bowne has influenced philosophy in various ways. For instance, there has been a direct line of personalists from Bowne through his student, Edgar Sheffield Brightman (1884–1954), through Brightman's student, Peter Anthony Bertocci (1910–1989), to Bertocci's student, Thomas O. Buford (born 1932).

There has also been a more general influence, as with Martin Luther King Jr., who studied at Boston University, and spoke in his Stride Toward Freedom of having gained "a metaphysical basis for the dignity and worth of all human personality."[22]

Bowne received nine nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature between 1906 and 1909—one from his own sister.[23]

Published works[edit]

  • The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer (New York, 1874).
  • Studies in Theism (New York, 1882).
  • Metaphysics: A Study in First Principles (New York, 1882; revised ed., 1898).
  • Introduction to Psychological Theory (New York, 1886).
  • Philosophy of Theism (New York, 1887; revised ed. 1902).
  • The Principles of Ethics (New York, 1892).
  • Theory of Thought and Knowledge (New York, 1899).
  • The Christian Revelation (Cincinnati, 1898).
  • The Christian Life (Cincinnati, 1899).
  • The Atonement (Cincinnati, 1900).
  • The Immanence of God (Boston, 1905).
  • Personalism (Boston, 1908).
  • Studies in Christianity (1909).
  • A Man’s View of Woman Suffrage (Boston, 1910).
  • The Essence of Religion (Boston, 1910).
  • Kant and Spencer: A Critical Exposition (Boston, 1912).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pronounced /ˈbn/.[14]



  1. ^ Burrow 1997a, p. 48.
  2. ^ a b c Burrow 1997a, p. 47.
  3. ^ Bertocci 1979, p. 206; Burrow 1997b, p. 245.
  4. ^ Burrow 1997b, p. 245.
  5. ^ Bertocci 1979, p. 206; Burrow 1997a, pp. 48–49; Burrow 1997b, p. 245.
  6. ^ Bertocci 1979, p. 206.
  7. ^ Wieman, Henry Nelson; Meland, Bernard Eugene (1936). American Philosophies of Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 134. Quoted in Steinkraus 2002, p. 19.
  8. ^ Bertocci 1983, p. 32.
  9. ^ a b c Dorrien 2003, p. 219; Dorrien 2006, p. 10.
  10. ^ Archibald, Helen Allan. "George Albert Coe". Christian Educators of the 20th Century. La Mirada, California: Biola University. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Burrow 1999, p. 78.
  12. ^ Chen 2017, p. 62.
  13. ^ Dorrien 2011, p. 308.
  14. ^ a b "Borden Parker Bowne" 2019.
  15. ^ a b DeWerff 1997, p. 128.
  16. ^ Auxier 2005, p. 306; "Borden Parker Bowne" 2019.
  17. ^ Burrow 1997a, p. 46.
  18. ^ Bertocci 1983, p. 32; DeWerff 1997, p. 128.
  19. ^ ”Bowne, Parker Borden,” in “The Columbia-Viking Desk Encyclopedia“ (1953), New York: Viking.
  20. ^ Burrow 1997a, p. 50.
  21. ^ Wright Buckham 1924, p. 88.
  22. ^ King 1958.
  23. ^ "Borden Parker Bowne". Nomination Database. Nobel Media. Retrieved September 27, 2019.


Auxier, Randall E. (2005). "Bowne, Borden Parker (1847–1910)". Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. 1. Bristol, England: Thoemmes Continuum. pp. 306–312. ISBN 978-1-84371-037-0.
Bertocci, Peter A. (1979). "Borden Parker Bowne and His Personalistic Theistic Idealism". Ultimate Reality and Meaning. 2 (3): 205–227. doi:10.3138/uram.2.3.205. ISSN 0709-549X.
 ———  (1983). "The Personalism of Edgar S. Brightman and Ultimate Reality". Ultimate Reality and Meaning. 6 (1): 32–50. doi:10.3138/uram.6.1.32. ISSN 0709-549X.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
 ———  (2006). "Bowne, Borden Parker (1847–1910)". In Borchert, Donald M. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1 (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 671–672. ISBN 978-0-02-866072-1.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
"Borden Parker Bowne". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (6th ed.). 2019. ISBN 978-0-7876-5015-5.
Burrow, Rufus, Jr. (1997a). "Borden Parker Bowne: The First Thoroughgoing Personalist". Methodist History. 36 (1): 44–54. hdl:10516/6081. ISSN 0026-1238.
 ———  (1997b). "The Personalism of John Wesley Edward Bowen". The Journal of Negro History. 82 (2): 244–256. doi:10.2307/2717519. ISSN 0022-2992. JSTOR 2717519.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
 ———  (1999). Personalism: A Critical Introduction. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press. ISBN 978-0-8272-2955-6.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
Chen, Yongtao (2017). The Chinese Christology of T. C. Chao. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004322417. ISBN 978-90-04-32241-7.
DeWerff, Timothy J., ed. (1997). Concise Dictionary of American Biography. 1 (5th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-80549-8. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
Dorrien, Gary (2003). "Making Liberal Theology Metaphysical: Personalist Idealism as a Theological School". American Journal of Theology & Philosophy. 24 (3): 214–244. ISSN 2156-4795. JSTOR 27944292.
 ———  (2006). The Making of American Liberal Theology: Crisis, Irony, and Postmodernity, 1950–2005. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22356-4.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
 ———  (2011). Social Ethics in the Making: Interpreting an American Tradition. Chichester, England: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4443-9379-8.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1958). Stride Toward Freedom. New York: Harper.
Steinkraus, Warren E. (2002). "A Century of Bowne's Theism". In Buford, Thomas O.; Oliver, Harold H. (eds.). Personalism Revisited: Its Proponents and Critics. Amsterdam: Rodopi. pp. 5–21. ISBN 978-90-420-1519-7.
Wright Buckham, John (1924). "Borden Parker Bowne: Personalist". The Personalist. 5 (2): 88–100. ISSN 1468-0114.

Further reading[edit]

Auxier, Randall E., ed. (1997). "The Relevance of Borden Parker Bowne" (special issue). The Personalist Forum. 13 (1). ISSN 0889-065X. JSTOR i20708736.
 ———  (1998). "Bowne on Time, Evolution and History". Journal of Speculative Philosophy. 12 (3): 181–203. ISSN 1527-9383. JSTOR 25670257.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
Bernhardt, William Henry (1928). The Influence of Borden Parker Bowne upon Theological Thought in the Methodist Episcopal Church (PhD thesis). Chicago: University of Chicago. OCLC 11041109.
Bowne, Borden Parker (1981). Steinkraus, Warren E. (ed.). Representative Essays of Borden Parker Bowne. Utica, New York: Meridian Pub. Co. ISBN 978-0-86610-066-3.
Bowne, Kate Morrison (1921). "An Intimate Portrait of Bowne". The Personalist. 2 (1): 5–15. ISSN 1468-0114.
Brightman, Edgar S. (1927). "Personalism and the Influence of Browne". In Brightman, Edgar S. (ed.). Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.
Dearing, Mary H. (1957–58). "Reminiscences of Borden Parker Bowne". The Philosophical Forum. 15: 51–55.
Deats, Paul; Robb, Carol, eds. (1986). The Boston Personalist Tradition in Philosophy, Social Ethics and Theology. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. ISBN 978-0-86554-177-1.
Dorrien, Gary (2001). The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805–1900. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 371–392. ISBN 978-0-664-22354-0.
Flewelling, Ralph Tyler (1915). Personalism and the Problems of Philosophy: An Appreciation of the Work of Borden Parker Bowne. New York: Methodist Book Concern. LCCN 15018742. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
Franquiz Ventura, Jose A. (1942). Borden Parker Bowne's Treatment of the Problem of Change and Identity. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico. OCLC 3501733.
Gacka, Bogumił (1994). Bibliography of American Personalism. Lublin, Poland: Oficyna Wydawnicza Czas. ISBN 978-83-85614-08-1.
Knudson, Albert C. (1920). "Bowne as Teacher and Author". The Personalist. 1 (2): 5–14. ISSN 1468-0114.
 ———  (1927). The Philosophy of Personalism: A Study in the Metaphysics of Religion. New York: Abingdon Press. OCLC 2796061. Retrieved September 27, 2019.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
Lazarus, Frederick (1962). The Metaphysics of Ramanuja and Bowne. Bombay.
March, Daniel L. (1937). "Borden Parker Bowne". Bostonia. Vol. 10. pp. 3–13.
McConnell, Francis J. (1929). Borden Parker Bowne: His Life and Philosophy. New York: Abingdon Press. OCLC 830682315.
Pyle, Charles Bertram (1910). The Philosophy of Borden Parker Bowne and Its Application to the Religious Problem. Columbus, Ohio: S. F. Harriman. OCLC 2506533.
Robinson, Daniel S., ed. (1955). "Borden Parker Bowne's Letters to William T. Harris". The Philosophical Forum. 13: 89–95.
Smith, Harmon L. (1966). "Borden Parker Bowne: Heresy at Boston". In Shriver, George H. (ed.). American Religious Heretics: Formal and Informal Trials. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press. pp. 148–187. LCCN 66021972. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
Werkmeister, W. H. (1949). "The Personalism of Bowne". A History of Philosophical Ideas in America. New York: Ronald Press Company. pp. 103–121. Retrieved September 27, 2019.