This is an extremely frustrating study. At a basic level it is a competent intellectual biography of Rorty. The writing in the biographical parts of the book is fluent and clear. The historical research in the papers of Rorty and his family is impressive. Although Gross is a sociologist, he has used to his advantage interviews with many people, including Rorty himself before he died. The reader interested in Rorty will find the biography a mine of information, and will in (...) addition get a good sense of how Rorty thought and where his ideas came from. Yet this biographical material, which the author himself describes as straightforward narrative, occupies only 200 of the 360 pages of the text. The other 45% of the .. (shrink)
: This comment on Campbell argues that a good book could be made better if more critical judgment was displayed. Attempts to recover the complete past must be abandoned, and especially in the history of ideas, evaluative judgments about the worth of ideas must be made and the presuppositions of thought must be explored.
Ranging from Joseph Bellamy to Hilary Putnam, and from early New England Divinity Schools to contemporary university philosophy departments, historian Bruce Kuklick recounts the story of the growth of philosophical thinking in the United States. Readers will explore the thought of early American philosphers such as Jonathan Edwards and John Witherspoon and will see how the political ideas of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson influenced philosophy in colonial America. Kuklick discusses The Transcendental Club (members Henry David Thoreau, Ralph (...) Waldo Emerson) and describes the rise of pragmatism centered on Metaphysical Club of Cambridge (and members William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Charles Peirce). He examines the profound impact Darwinism had on American philosophy and looks at Idealists such as the Kantian Josiah Royce and the Hegelian John Dewey. The book shows how, in the twentieth century, the Nazi conquest of Europe unleashed a flood of European intellectuals onto these shores, including such major thinkers as Theodore Adorno, Erich Fromm, Rudolph Carnap, and Alfred Tarski. Finally, Kuklick examines the contributions of such contemporary philosophers as Sidney Hook and Willard Quine and such books as John Rawl's A Theory of Justice and Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. Kuklick pulls no punches in portraying the state of American philosophy today and its contested role in the intellectual life of the nation and the world. The range of philosophical thought in our nation's history has been great, from Edwards's Religious Affections to Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Bruce Kuklick has captured it all in a book that blends intricate details with sweeping vision. (shrink)