The Pragmatist Aesthetics of William James

British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (4):347-361 (2011)
Although William James wrote no philosophical treatise on aesthetics, he can be seen as an important source for pragmatist aesthetics. This paper reconstructs James's aesthetic views from his diverse writings that demonstrate a keen regard for the arts and for the central, pervasive importance of the aesthetic dimension of experience, a dimension he saw as closely linked to the rational and practical. Special attention is given to his path-blazing The Principles of Psychology which precedes James's explicit pragmatist stage but contains all the most essential themes of pragmatist aesthetics that Dewey would later formulate with much greater detail and argumentation in Art as Experience . This paper elucidates James's treatment of these themes, argues for his influence on Dewey's aesthetics, and suggests how the Jamesian approach exemplifies a promising convergence of aesthetics with philosophy of mind
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayr030
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Max Carl Otto (ed.) (1942). William James. Madison, the University of Wisconsin Press.
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