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Ram Roy Bhaskar (born May 15, 1944) is a British philosopher, best known as a significant proponent of the philosophical movement of Critical Realism (For comparison, Bernard Lonergan, born in 1904, is another critical-realist).

Early lifeEdit

Bhaskar was born in London, the elder of two brothers. His Indian father and English mother were Theosophists.

In 1963 Bhaskar went up to Balliol College, Oxford on a scholarship to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Having graduated with first class honours in 1966, he began work on a Ph.D. thesis about the relevance of economic theory for under-developed countries. This research led him to the philosophy of social science and then the philosophy of science. In the course of this Rom Harré became his supervisor.

Critical realismEdit

Bhaskar's consideration of the philosophies of science and social science resulted in the development of Critical Realism, an ontological and emancipatory body of thought that aspires to move beyond The Enlightenment to a new Eudaimonian Enlightenment, avoiding irrationalism and reductionist rationalism through historical self-awareness and dialectic. To achieve this, it draws on pre-modern dialectical and spiritual traditions as well as on positive aspects of The Enlightenment: its commitment to scientific inquiry and to freedom.

The term Critical Realism was not initially used by Bhaskar, who instead developed bodies of work on what he called Transcendental Realism in the philosophy of science, and on Critical Naturalism to extend that body of work into the social sciences. The term Critical Realism is an elision of Transcendental Realism and Critical Naturalism, that has been subsequently accepted by Bhaksar after being proposed by others. Critical Realism, thus understood, therefore includes Bhaskar's work on both the philosophy of science and social science and also his work on dialectic, social emancipation and the history of philosophy.


Bhaskar, who lectures internationally, has taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, Sussex and London. Since 1995 he has worked full-time on the Centre for Critical Realism and the International Association of Critical Realism.

In 2000, Bhaskar published From East to West: The Odyssey of a Soul, in which he first expressed ideas related to spiritual values that came to be seen as the beginning of his so-called spiritual turn. This was initially very controversial, but has since won growing support after the publication in 2002 of his books on the radical development of critical realism which he called the philosophy of meta-reality, when he made it clear that this latest phase of his thought applied to people of all faiths and no faith, i.e. was susceptible to a purely secular interpretation.

What he refers to as Meta-Reality, however may be seen as a different philosophy altogether. In his Reflections on Meta-Reality, he states:

This book articulates the difference between critical realism in its development and a new philosophical standpoint which I am in the process of developing, which I have called the philosophy of Meta-Reality.

The main departure, it seems, is an emphasis on the shift away from Western dualism to a non-dual model in which emancipation entails "a breakdown, an overcoming, of the duality and separateness between things."


Bhaskar has been humorously criticized for his allegedly inept and incomprehensible writing. Blogger Andrew Sullivan once mocked him for writing this sentence: "Indeed dialectical critical realism may be seen under the aspect of Foucaultian strategic reversal - of the unholy trinity of Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristotelean provenance; of the Cartesian-Lockean-Humean-Kantian paradigm, of foundationalisms (in practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalisms (in practice, capricious exercises of the will-to-power or some other ideologically and/or psycho-somatically buried source) new and old alike; of the primordial failing of western philosophy, ontological monovalence, and its close ally, the epistemic fallacy with its ontic dual; of the analytic problematic laid down by Plato, which Hegel served only to replicate in his actualist monovalent analytic reinstatement in transfigurative reconciling dialectical connection, while in his hubristic claims for absolute idealism he inaugurated the Comtean, Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean eclipses of reason, replicating the fundament of positivism through its transmutation route to the super-idealism of a Baudrillard."

Personal lifeEdit

Bhaskar married Hilary Wainwright, the socialist and feminist, in 1971.

See also Edit

External links Edit

References Edit

  • Archer, M. et. al 1998, "Critical Realism: Essential Readings," London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19632-9
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 1997 [1975], "A Realist Theory of Science," London: Version. ISBN 1-85984-103-1
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 1998 [1979], The Possibility of Naturalism (3rd edition), London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19874-7
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 1989, Reclaiming Reality: A Critical Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-951-X
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 2002, Reflections On Meta-Reality: A Philosophy for the Present, New Delhi: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-9691-5
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 1993, Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom, London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-583-2
  • Bhaskar, R.A., 1994, Plato, etc: The Problems of Philosophy and Their Resolution, London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-649-9
  • Collier, A., 1994, Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar's Philosophy, London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-602-2
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