Martineau, Cobbe, and Teleological Progressivism

Stone, Alison (2021) Martineau, Cobbe, and Teleological Progressivism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 29 (6). pp. 1099-1123. ISSN 0960-8788

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In this paper, I reconstruct the views on historical progress of two nineteenth-century English-speaking philosophical women, Harriet Martineau (1802–76) and Frances Power Cobbe (1822–1904). Martineau and Cobbe put forward theories of progress which I classify as versions of teleological progressivism. Their theories are bound up with their accounts of different world civilizations and religions, and their advancement towards either Christianity, for Cobbe, or through and beyond Christianity towards secularization, for Martineau. After explaining the overall nature of teleological progressivism in the Victorian era and locating Cobbe and Martineau within this intellectual context (Section 1), I turn to the details of Martineau’s version of teleological progressivism (Section 2), then Cobbe’s initial version (Section 3) followed by her second, revised version (Section 4). I then draw out some conclusions about the shared structure of Martineau’s and Cobbe’s forms of teleological progressivism and its complicated connections with Eurocentrism and colonialism (Section 5).

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in British Journal for the History of Philosophy on 4 Dec 2020, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? francis power cobbeharriet martineauprogresshistoryimperialismphilosophy ??
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Deposited On:
17 Nov 2020 16:40
Last Modified:
12 Feb 2024 00:38