In this essay I shall offer a brief appreciative overview of the philosophical system of British philosopher Timothy L.S. Sprigge (14 January 1932—11 July 2007). In so doing I shall be emphasizing the importance in that system of subjectivity—of the existence of centers (he writes “centres,” but here I follow the US spelling convention) of consciousness, sentience, and experience, characterized essentially by the fact that thereis ‘something that it is like’ to be them.
Sprigge had adopted this way of talking about subjectivity—as involving what it is “like” to be something—before it was made famous by Thomas Nagel in his 1974 paper “What is it Like to Be a Bat?” Subjectivity was a theme of Sprigge’s philosophical work from the very beginning, well before he had fully worked out his mature views. Indeed, “The Importance of Subjectivity” was the title of his inaugural lecture upon his appointment to the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and was chosen (by his friend, colleague, former student, and literary executor Leemon McHenry, at the suggestion of Pierfrancesco Basile) as the title of a posthumously published collection of his papers.
My aim is to provide, for interested readers, a short and accessible (though of course very far from complete) account of the main lines of Sprigge’s system in a way that will provide a quick and ready grasp both of the overall unity of that system and of the fundamental and far-reaching importance of subjectivity within it.