In 1887 almost every philosopher in the English-speaking countries was an idealist. A hundred years later in the same countries, almost all philosophers have forgotten this fact; and when, as occasionally happens, they are reminded of it, they find it almost impossible to believe. But it ought never to be forgotten. For it shows what the opinions, even the virtually unanimous opinions, of philosophers are worth, when they conflict with common sense.
Not only were nearly all English-speaking philosophers idealists a hundred years ago: absolutely all of the best ones were…In general, the British idealists were…good philosophers. Green, Bosanquet, Bradley, and Andrew Seth, in particular, were very good philosophers indeed. These facts need all the emphasis I can give them, because most philosophers nowadays either never knew or have forgotten them, and indeed…they cannot really believe them. They are facts, nevertheless, and facts which ought never to be forgotten. For they show what the opinions even, or rather, especially of good philosophers are worth, when conflict with common sense. (They therefore also throw some light on the peculiar logic of the concept ‘good philosopher’: an important but neglected subject.)
The current near, or would-be, consensus is that we are all slaves to our neurons, or perhaps genes, or both; or maybe our environment, or class situation, or anything; anything which denies our free will and exonerates us from culpability.
Of course, it would be a fallacy to say, as some of you are tempted to say, that any consensus should not be trusted. Because there are plenty of truths we all, philosophers or not, agree on. The only lesson for us is that the presence of a consensus does not imply truth. And maybe that some fields are more prone to grand mistakes than others.
Update Stove on the Science Mafia in the Velikovsky affair.