William James had the courage to experience the collision of European and American ways of thinking head on, and to emerge from it with a new philosophy - one displaying a remarkable vitality for dealing with the transformative issues at the core of the human condition. This easy to read introduction to his life and work explains why James' work is overwhelmingly valuable to us today in getting to grips with the spiritual dimension of human experience.
The Essential William James covers the primary topics for which James is still closely studied: the nature of experience, the functions of the mind, the criteria for knowledge, the definition of “truth,” the ethical life, and the religious life. His notable terms, still resonating in their respective fields, are all covered here, from “stream of consciousness” and “pure experience” to the “will to believe,” the “cash-value of truth,” and the distinction between the religiously “healthy soul” and the “sick (...) soul.” This volume’s eighteen selections receive the bulk of the attention and citation from scholars, provide excellent coverage of core topics, and have a broad appeal across many academic disciplines. (shrink)
The culmination of William James' interest in the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience approached the study of religious phenomena in a new way -- through pragmatism and experimental psychology. The most important effect of the publication of the Varieties was to shift the emphasis in this field of study from the dogmas and external forms of religion to the unique mental states associated with it. Explaining the book's intentions in a letter to a friend, (...) class='Hi'>James stated: "The problem I have set myself is a hard one: first, to defend...'experience' against 'philosophy' as being the real backbone of the world's religious life...and second, to make the hearer or reader believe what I myself invincibly do believe, that, although all the special manifestations of religion may have been absurd (I mean its creeds and theories), yet the life of it as a whole is mankind's most important function." Drawing evidence from his own experience and from such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, John Bunyan, and Jonathan Edwards, The Varieties of Religious Experience remains one of the most influential books ever written on the psychology of religion. (shrink)
In his introduction to this collection, John representative. McDermott presents James's thinking in all its manifestations, stressing the importance of radical empiricism and placing into perspective the doctrines of pragmatism and the will to believe. The critical periods of James's life are highlighted to illuminate the development of his philosophical and psychological thought. The anthology features representive selections from The Principles of Psychology, The Will to Believe , and The Variety of Religious Experience in addition to the complete (...) Essays in Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe . The original 1907 edition of Pragmatism is included, as well as classic selections from all of James's other major works. Of particular significance for James scholarship is the supplemented version of Ralph Barton Perry's Annotated Bibliography of the Writings of William James , with additions bringing it up to 1976. (shrink)
Noted psychologist and philosopher develops his own brand of pragmatism, based on theories of C. S. Peirce. Emphasis on "radical empiricism," versus the transcendental and rationalist tradition. One of the most important books in American philosophy. Note.
The status of the body figures paradoxically in the interrelated discourses of whiteness, aesthetic taste, and hipness. While Richard Dyer’s analysis of whiteness argues that white identity is “in but not of the body,” Carolyn Korsmeyer’s and Julia Kristeva’s feminist analyses of aesthetic “taste” demonstrate that this faculty is traditionally conceived as something “of” but not “in” the body. While taste directly distances whiteness from embodiment, hipness negatively affirms this same distance: the hipster proves his elite status within white culture (...) by positioning himself as, in the words of James Chance’s song title, “Almost Black.” The notion of hip contributes to my analysis of taste by focusing on both the gender politics of white embodiment, and how, by taking the social body as object of the prepositions “in” and “of,” these discourses of taste and hipness produce individual bodies as white, and maintain Whiteness as a socio-political norm. (shrink)
What is an emotion? -- The dilemma of determinism -- The perception of reality -- The hidden self -- Habit -- The will -- The gospel of relaxation -- On a certain blindness in human beings -- What makes a life significant -- Philosophical conceptions and practical results -- The Philippine tangle -- The sick soul -- The Ph. D. octopus -- Does "consciousness" exist? -- The energies of men -- Concerning Fechner -- The moral equivalent of war.
James B. Ashbrook's "new natural theology in an empirical mode" pursued an integrated understanding of the spiritual, psychological, and neurological dimensions of spiritual life. Knowledge of neuroscience and personality theory was central to his quest, and his understandings were necessarily revised and amplified as scientific findings emerged. As a result, Ashbrook's legacy may serve as a case example of how to do religion-and-science in a milieu of scientific change. The constant in the quest was Ashbrook's core belief in the (...) basic holism of brain, mind, personality, the nature of reality, and the underlying reality of God. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. May scientists rely on substantive, a priori presuppositions? Quinean naturalists say "no," but Michael Friedman and others claim that such a view cannot be squared with the actual history of science. To make his case, Friedman offers Newton's universal law of gravitation and Einstein's theory of relativity as examples of admired theories that both employ presuppositions (usually of a mathematical nature), presuppositions that do not face empirical evidence directly. In fact, Friedman claims that the use of such presuppositions is (...) a hallmark of "science as we know it." But what should we say about the special sciences, which typically do not rely on the abstruse formalisms one finds in the exact sciences? I identify a type of a priori presupposition that plays an especially striking role in the development of empirical psychology. These are ontological presuppositions about the type of object a given science purports to study. I show how such presuppositions can be both a priori and rational by investigating their role in an early flap over psychology's contested status as a natural science. The flap focused on one of the field's earliest textbooks, William James's Principles of Psychology. The work was attacked precisely for its reliance on a priori presuppositions about what James had called the "mental state," psychology's (alleged) proper object. I argue that the specific presuppositions James packed into his definition of the "mental state" were not directly responsible to empirical evidence, and so in that sense were a priori; but the presuppositions were rational in that they were crafted to help overcome philosophical objections (championed by neo-Hegelians) to the very idea that there can be a genuine science of mind. Thus, my case study gives an example of substantive, a priori presuppositions being put to use—to rational use—in the special sciences. In addition to evaluating James's use of presuppositions, my paper also offers historical reflections on two different strands of pragmatist philosophy of science. One strand, tracing back through Quine to C. S. Peirce, is more naturalistic, eschewing the use of a priori elements in science. The other strand, tracing back through Kuhn and C. I. Lewis to James, is more friendly to such presuppositions, and to that extent bears affinity with the positivist tradition Friedman occupies. (shrink)
The original 1907 text of James' Pragmatism is accompanied with a series of critical essays from scholars including Moore and Russell. In the introduction Olin evaluates the strength of the criticisms made against James.
The radical empiricism of William James was first formally presented in his seminal papers of 1904, 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World of Pure Experience'. In James's view, pure experience was to serve as the source for psychology's primary data and radical empiricism was to launch an effective critique of experimentalism in psychology, a critique from which the problem of experimentalism within science could be addressed more broadly. This collection of papers presents James's formal statements on radical (...) empiricism and a representative sample of contemporary responses from psychologists and philosophers. With only a few exceptions, these responses indicate just how badly James was misread - psychologists ignoring the heart of James's message and philosophers transforming James's metaphysics into something quite unintelligible to the emerging generation of experimental psychologists. (shrink)
The relationship between William James and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) has recently been the subject of intense scholarly research. We know for instance that the later Wittgenstein's reflections on the philosophy of psychology found in James a major source of inspiration. Not surprisingly therefore, the pragmatist nature of the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein is increasingly acknowledged, in spite of Wittgenstein’s adamant refusal of being labeled a “pragmatist”. In this brief paper I merely want to piece together some of (...) the available evidence of Wittgenstein’s high regard for William James, not only for his thoughts, but even more so for his character. (shrink)
In this short paper I try to present William James’s connection with the Argentinian writer Macedonio Fernández (1874-1952), who was in some sense a mentor of Borges and might be considered the missing link between Borges and James.
The year of the centennial of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges is probably the right time to exhume one of the links that this universal writer had with William James. In 1945, Emece, a publisher from Buenos Aires, printed a Spanish translation of William James’s book Pragmatism, with a foreword by Jorge Luis Borges.
Our aim in this article, after providing the general framework of the reception of William James in Spain, is to trace the reception of The Varieties of Religious Experience through Unamuno’s reading of this book.
I shall describe the beautiful fit of the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead and William James with the concepts of relativistic quantum field theory developed by Tomonaga and Schwinger.The central concept is a set of happenings each of which is assigned a space-time region.This growing set of non-overlapping regions fill out a growing space-time region that advances into the still uncreated and yet-to-be-axed future.Each happening has both experiential aspects and physical aspects,which are jointly needed to generate the advance (...) into the future.This conception is useful in passing from the pragmatic interpretation of science to a putative understanding of the reality beyond phenomena,and of our role within it. James' ideas about attention and volition are naturally implementable within this framework,and make us into agents that can act eficaciously upon the physical world on the basis of felt values, rational reasons,and conscious understandings. (shrink)
Academic popularizers of the new field of evolutionary psychology make notable appeals to William James to bolster their doctrine. In particular, they cite James’ remark that humans have all the “impulses” animals do and many more besides to shore up their claim that people’s “instincts” account for their flexibility. This essay argues that these scholars misinterpret James on the instincts. Consciousness (which they find inscrutable) explains cognitive flexibility for James. The evolutionary psychologists’ appeal to (...) class='Hi'>James is, therefore, unwarranted and, given the conditions relevant to the public and professional audiences they address, also ineffective as a rhetorical tool for enlisting new recruits. (shrink)
William James is notorious for the large number of inconsistencies and at least apparent contradictions in his writings. Many readers conclude that he should be appreciated more for his profound but erratic insights than for any coherent philosophical perspective. Ellen Kappy Suckiel disagrees. She argues that James is far more careful and systematic than many readers realize. Her work on James is guided by the attempt to lay bare his coherent philosophical vision and the consistent philosophical methodology (...) underlying it. As a result of this approach, Suckiel's work on James is both sympathetic to his philosophical insights and carefully argued. In her first book, The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James (1982), Suckiel applies this approach to James's philosophy as a whole. The result is a work of remarkable clarity and insight that serves as a wonderful introduction to James's thought. In her more recent book, Suckiel applies this approach specifically to James's philosophy of religion, with similar felicitous results. Heaven's... (shrink)
William James' Radical Empiricist essays offer a unique and powerful argument for direct realism about our perceptions of objects. This theory can be completed with some observations by Kant on the intellectual preconditions for a perceptual judgment. Finally James and Kant deliver a powerful blow to the representational theory of perception and knowledge, which applies quite broadly to theories of representation generally.
William James's theory of emotion is often criticized for placing too much emphasis on bodily feelings and neglecting the cognitive aspects of emotion. This paper suggests that such criticisms are misplaced. Interpreting James's account of emotion in the light of his later philosophical writings, I argue that James does not emphasize bodily feelings at the expense of cognition. Rather, his view is that bodily feelings are part of the structure of intentionality. In reconceptualizing the relationship between cognition (...) and affect, James rejects a number of commonplace assumptions concerning the nature of our cognitive relationship with the world, assumptions that many of his critics take for granted. (shrink)
A moral-pragmatic argument for a proposition is an argument intended to establish that believing the proposition would be morally beneficial. Since such arguments do not adduce epistemic reasons, i.e., reasons that support the truth of a proposition, they can seem at best to be irrelevant epistemically. At worst, believing on the basis of such reasoning can seem to involve wishful thinking and intellectual dishonesty of a sort that that precludes such beliefs from being epistemically unjustified. Inspired by an argument from (...) William James’ classic, “The Will to Believe”, I argue that there is a way of making sense of moral-pragmatic arguments such that they are epistemically relevant. I develop and argue for a theory of epistemic justification that I dub the “moral encroachment theory” (emphasizing its connection to recent pragmatic encroachment views). According to the theory, moral considerations can raise or lower epistemic standards from where they would be in morally neutral settings. The moral encroachment theory, I contend, denotes a normative property that is at once distinctively epistemic and valuable. The theory also allows a legitimate role for moral-pragmatic reasoning under certain conditions. The upshot is that moral-pragmatic reasoning can be epistemically as well as morally appropriate. (shrink)
One of the aspects of consciousness deserving of study is what might be called its subjective unity - the way in which, though conscious experience moves from object to object, and can be said to have distinct ‘states', it nevertheless in some sense apparently forms a singular flux divided only by periods of unconsciousness. The work of William James provides a valuable, and rather unique, source of analysis of this feature of consciousness; however, in my opinion, this component of (...)James’ theory of the mind has so far gone under-emphasized in the scholarly literature. This paper undertakes some philosophical geography, trying to draw out and elucidate some of the relevant ideas from James’ corpus, and also subjects those ideas to some analysis to try and assist in judgements of their current importance. (shrink)
This book is my new scholarly edition of William James, A Pluralistic Universe. The original text has been recovered, annotations to the text added to identify James' authors and events of interest, there is a new bibliography chiefly based on James' sources, a brief chronology of James' career, and I have added an expository and critical Introduction and a comprehensive analytical index.
Quantum field theory (QFT) combines quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity and underlies elementary particle physics. This book presents a philosophical analysis of QFT. It is the first treatise in which the philosophies of space-time, quantum phenomena, and particle interactions are encompassed in a unified framework. Describing the physics in nontechnical terms, and schematically illustrating complex ideas, the book also serves as an introduction to fundamental physical theories. The philosophical interpretation both upholds the reality of the quantum (...) world and acknowledges the irreducible cognitive elements in its representation. The interpretation is based on an analysis of our ways of thinking as the are embedded in the logical structure of QFT. The author argues that philosophical categories are significant only if they play active and essential roles in our knowledge and hence constitute part of the theories in actual use. Thus she regards physical theories as primary, extracts their categorical structure, and uses it to rethink key philosophical questions. Among the questions this book tries to answer are: What are the quantum properties independent of measurements? How do we refer to individual things in a continuous field? How do theories relate to objects? What are the general conditions of the world and of our ways of thinking that make possible our knowledge of the microscopic realm, which is so intangible and counterintuitive? As a penetrating analysis of vital themes in contemporary science, the book will engage the interest of students and professionals in physics and philosophy alike. (shrink)
William James has been characterized as “the major whipping boy of the later Wittgenstein,” and the currency of this impression of the relation between James and Wittgenstein is understandable. Reading Wittgenstein and his commentators can leave one with the impression that James was a badly muddled “exponent of the tradition in the philosophy of mind that [Wittgenstein] was opposing.” There have been recent attempts to resist this trend, but even these tend to focus on the affinities between (...) the two philosophers, still accepting the prevailing view that Wittgenstein was often critical of James, and that in such cases Wittgenstein was always right and James was always wrong. By contrast, by focusing on Wittgenstein’s discussion of James’s “if-feeling”, it will be argued that Wittgenstein’s criticisms of James are often not as damaging, or even as extensive, as has often been assumed. (shrink)
As suggested in the subtitle, A New Philosophical Reading, the editor aspires in his Introduction and his notes to “facilitate a deeper understanding and a critical evaluation (...) of this crucial and difficult philosophical work” (p. ix). This was the last important book which James published during his lifetime. With it James aims at a critical evaluation of Hegelian monism and an exploration of the philosophical and theological alternatives. “Our world of some one hundred years on”—the editor says (...) (p. ix)—“is much the better for James’ contribution, and understanding William James on pluralism deeply contributes even now to America’s self-understanding.”. (shrink)
Many readers have viewed William James's "The Will to Believe" as his most distinctive and resonating lecture. Yet for all the scholarly attention it has received, the complexities of the "pragmatic defence," and the issues it raises concerning evidential and pragmatic reasoning are still often misunderstood. In this paper I explicate a neglected "core" argument tied closely to James's thesis statement, and provide charts and other tools useful in presenting James' lecture in the philosophy classroom. This argument, (...) based on the Ought-Implies-Can principle, is useful for highlighting differences between James's pragmatist and Clifford's evidentialist perspective. I first reconstruct this implicit Ought-Implies-Can argument in modus tollens form, and follow this with a Chart intended to clarify various steps James takes in support of the crucial second premise. My purpose is primarily to explicate this neglected argument in a reconstructed, "bare-bones" fashion for classroom study and evaluation. (shrink)
In 1907 William James was invited to give the Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College, Oxford. Initially he was reluctant to do so since he feared undertaking them would divert him from developing rigorously and systematically some metaphysical ideas of his own that had preoccupied him for some time. In the end, however, he relented and in the spring of 1908 gave the lectures which were subsequently published as A Pluralistic Universe. As it happened, though, in the course of these (...) lectures James presented some of those metaphysical ideas, though in a popular and informal style appropriate to lecturing. Later on he did get down to working out a systematic metaphysics in proper academic style, but the project was cut short by his untimely death in 1910. The incomplete Some Problems of Philosophy, posthumously published in 1911, recapitulates some major themes of A Pluralistic Universe. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. Associationist psychologists of the late 19th-century premised their research on a fundamentally Humean picture of the mind. So the very idea of mental science was called into question when T. H. Green, a founder of British idealism, wrote an influential attack on Hume’s Treatise. I first analyze Green’s interpretation and criticism of Hume, situating his reading with respect to more recent Hume scholarship. I focus on Green’s argument that Hume cannot consistently admit real ideas of spatial relations. I then (...) argue that William James’s early work on spatial perception attempted to vindicate the new science of mind by showing how to avoid the problems Green had exposed in Hume’s empiricism. James’s solution involved rejecting a basic Humean assumption—that perceptual experience is fundamentally composed of so-called minima sensibilia, or psychological atoms. The claim that there are no psychological atoms is interesting because James supported it with experimental data rather than (as commentators typically suppose) with introspective description or a priori argument. James claimed to be the real descendant of British empiricism on grounds that his anti-atomistic model of perception fortified what Green had perhaps most wanted to demolish—the prospect of using empirical, scientific methods in the study of mind. (shrink)
This new edition of William James’s 1909 classic, A Pluralistic Universe reproduces the original text, only modernizing the spelling. The books has been annotated throughout to clarify James’s points of reference and discussion. There is a new, fuller index, a brief chronology of James’s life, and a new bibliography—chiefly based on James’s own references. The editor, H.G. Callaway, has included a new Introduction which elucidates the legacy of Jamesian pluralism to survey some related questions of contemporary (...) American society. -/- A Pluralistic Universe was the last major book James published during his life time. It is a substantial philosophical work, devoted to a thorough-going criticism of Hegelian monism and Absolutism—and the exploration of philosophical and social-theological alternatives. Our world of some one hundred years on is much the better for James’s contributions; and understanding James’s pluralism deeply contributes even now to America’s self-understanding. At present, we are more certain that American is, and is best, a pluralistic society, than we are of what particular forms our pluralism should take. Keeping an eye out for social interpretations of Jamesian pluralism, this new philosophical reading casts light on our twenty-first century alternatives by reference to prior American experience and developments. -/- . (shrink)
James argued that time is a sensation, and the main point of this paper is to deny that claim. The concept of the specious present is explained, indicating how it clarifies the concept of "the present moment." But neither it nor an argument used by Mach and James show time to be a sensation. The analysis presented here requires distinguishing concepts of sensation from concepts of temporal relations. James' view is really a theory that time-as-duration is sensed. (...) But this assumes that the description of time as sensed is also a description of time as an objective property of independent events. This is nowhere established, and making it plausible is a recurrent problem for philosophies like neutral monism and radical empiricism. (shrink)
: William James's "The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs—not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of (...) abandoning them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (including wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
It was important to James's philosophy, especially his doctrine of the will to believe, that we could believe at will. Toward this end he argues in The Principles of Psychology that attending to an idea is identical with believing it, which, in turn, is identical with willing that it be realized. Since willing is identical with believing and willing is an intentional action, it follows by Leibniz's Law that believing also is an intentional action. This paper explores the problems (...) with James's thesis that attending=will=belief. An attempt is made to show that it has a salvageable core that is of considerable philosophical interest and importance. (shrink)
The concept of empiricism evokes both a historical tradition and a set of philosophical theses. The theses are usually understood to have been developed by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. But these figures did not use the term “empiricism,” and they did not see themselves as united by a shared epistemology into one school of thought. My dissertation analyzes the debate that elevated the concept of empiricism (and of an empiricist tradition) to prominence in English-language philosophy. -/- In the 1870s and (...) ’80s a lively debate about psychology emerged. Neo-Kantian idealists criticized the very idea that the mind can be studied scientifically. A group of philosopher-psychologists responded, often in Mind. They were among the first to call themselves “empiricists,” arguing that psychology could provide a scientific basis for philosophical progress. Idealists held that empirical psychology depended on premises developed by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. These premises were allegedly absurd because they rendered ideas of extension, as well as other ideas crucial to natural science, unreal. Those who wanted to advance psychology towards becoming a legitimate science were forced to engage these philosophical attacks, while at the same time to develop empirical theories that could successfully explain some characteristics of experience. I show how James’s theory of space perception accomplished both tasks. -/- In developing this theory, James found he had to reject the Lockean notion that reality is associated with passively-registered sensations. James also abandoned Berkeley and Hume’s claim that ideas are ultimately derived from atomic sensations. Instead, James presented experimental evidence that sensation is a continuous stream. The mind must actively parse this stream if it is to gain a coherent representation of its environment. I argue that James’s stream-of-thought thesis served as a presupposition of his entire psychology. The thesis showed how the labor of investigating the mind could be divided between philosophers and scientists, and in a manner sensitive to the concerns of both. The stream thesis also provided a scientific basis for a new philosophical empiricism that, I argue, has a hidden legacy in the history of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
All our conscious experiences, linguistic and nonlinguistic, are bound up with and dependent on a background that is vague, unexpressed, and sometimes unconscious. The combination of William JamesÕs concept of "fringes" coupled with Aaron GurwitschÕs analysis of the field of consciousness provides a general structure in which to embed phenomenal descriptions, enabling fringe phenomena to be understood, in part, relative to other experiences. I will argue, drawing on examples from Drew LederÕs book, The Absent Body, that specific and detailed (...) phenomena can and should be interrelated through JamesÕs and GurwitschÕs analyses. I am proposing first that phenomenological descriptions in general could benefit from explicit consideration of the context of the phenomena within the totality of the field of consciousness, and second, that establishing that context requires a general structural model of that field, similar to that provided by Gurwitsch. (shrink)
William James presents a preference-sensitive and future-directed notion of truth that has struck many as wildly revisionary. This paper argues that such a reaction usually results from failing to see how his accounts of truth and intentionality are intertwined. James' forward-looking account of intentionality (or "knowing") compares favorably the 'causal' and 'resemblance-driven' accounts that have been popular since his day, and it is only when his remarks about truth are placed in the context of his account of intentionality (...) that they come to seem as plausible as they manifestly did to James. (shrink)
How are the states of consciousness intrinsically so that they all qualify as ?feelings? in William James?s generic sense? Only a small, propaedeutic part of what is required to address the intrinsic nature of such states can be accomplished here. I restrict my topic mainly to a certain characteristic that belongs to each of those pulses of mentality that successively make up James?s stream of consciousness. Certain statements of James?s are intended to pick out the variable ?width? (...) belonging to a stream of consciousness as it flows. Attention to this proposed property brings me to a discussion of (a) the unitary character of each of the states of consciousness however complex they may frequently be and (b) how to conceive of their complexity without recourse to a misleading spatial metaphor. (shrink)
First of all, I just want to say that in my opinion this is an interesting and thought-provoking book, and a badly needed corrective to certain mistaken assumptions about James. I find myself very much in sympathy with many of its main points. Some of the things I have to say in the following may— or perhaps may not—be thought to disagree with some of what Professor Brown has argued in his book. If that is so, it should be (...) taken only as an indication of the degree to which William James on Radical Empiricism and Religion stimulates philosophical thought. Similarly, the essay I found myself preparing for this occasion seems in the end to have a lot more to do with what I think about James than, on the surface, it does with Professor Brown’s book: again, I would wish this to be seen as a compliment to the high quality of his work (which is certainly the way I see it), since everything I might have come up with here is in response to my reading of his book. (shrink)
William James is remembered as the philosopher of pragmatism, but he was principally the founder of modern scientific psychology. During the period of his most intense scientific involvement James developed a trenchant critique of science. This was not a rejection of science but an attempt to identify limitations of the contemporary conceptualization of science. In particular, James emphasized the failure of science to understand its basis in human emotions. James developed a scientific theory of emotions in (...) which the importance of emotion in cognition and decision-making is central. James’ appreciation of the significance of emotions in science has continuing value. Nevertheless, his characterization of science in terms of its method introduces tensions in his account that an emphasis on the social dimensions of science, which he implicitly acknowledged, tends to resolve. (shrink)
This book explores Wittgenstein's long engagement with the work of the pragmatist William James. In contrast to previous discussions Russell Goodman argues that James exerted a distinctive and pervasive positive influence on Wittgenstein's thought. For example, the book shows that the two philosophers share commitments to anti-foundationalism, to the description of the concrete details of human experience, to the priority of practice over intellect, and to the importance of religion in understanding human life. Considering in detail what Wittgenstein (...) learnt from his reading of Principles of Psychology and Varieties of Religious Experience the author provides considerable evidence for Wittgenstein's claim that he is saying 'something that sounds like pragmatism'. This provocative account of the convergence in the thinking of two major philosophers usually considered as members of discrete traditions will be eagerly sought by students of Wittgenstein, William James, pragmatism and the history of twentieth-century philosophy. (shrink)
William James (1842-1910) was both a philosopher and a psychologist, nowadays most closely associated with the pragmatic theory of truth. The essays in this Companion deal with the full range of his thought as well as other issues, including technical philosophical issues, religious speculation, moral philosophy and political controversies of his time. The relationship between James and other philosophers of his time, as well as his brother Henry, are also examined. By placing James in his intellectual landscape (...) the volume will be particularly useful to teachers and students outside philosophy in such areas as religious studies, history of ideas, and American studies. New readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to James currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of James. (shrink)
Quantum field theory, one of the most rapidly developing areas of contemporary physics, is full of problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This collection of essays is the first systematic exploration of the nature and implications of quantum field theory. The contributors discuss quantum field theory from a wide variety of standpoints, exploring in detail its mathematical structure and metaphysical and methodological implications.
A brief (10,000 word) introduction to James's philosophy with particular focus on the relation between James's naturalism and his account of various normative notions like rationality, goodness and truth.
The aim of this article is to establish—and explore—James Baldwin's significance for educational theory. Through a close reading of ‘Everybody's Protest Novel’, I show that Baldwin's thinking is an important (if unrecognized) precursor to the work of Stanley Cavell and Cora Diamond, and is relevant to a number of problems that are educationally significant, in particular problems of race and racism.
This essay considers the extent to which a concept of emergence can be associated with Effective Field Theories (EFTs). I suggest that such a concept can be characterized by microphysicalism and novelty underwritten by the elimination of degrees of freedom from a high-energy theory, and argue that this makes emergence in EFTs distinct from other concepts of emergence in physics that have appeared in the recent philosophical literature.
: It is part of the conventional wisdom about the James family that the elder Henry James (1811–82) had a large influence on his son, William James (1842–1910), in the direction of religious interests. But William neither adopted his father's spirituality nor did he regard it as a foil to his own secularity. Instead, after first rejecting the elder James's idiosyncratic faith, he became increasingly intrigued with his insights into the natural world, which were in turn (...) shaped by the Swedenborgian philosophy of correspondences and use, which depict worldly facts as vessels of the spirit. The young science student drew upon this approach to nature as a resource for finding the operation of immaterial aspects within the world. The influence of the father emerges in William's emphasis on the will in human psychology, his eagerness to punctuate the striving of "the will to believe" with sessions of comforting conviction, his readiness to find "'piecemeal' supernaturalism" in subliminal psychology, his incorporation of idealism into his radical empiricism, and his openness to psychical experience. Without accepting the particulars of Henry James's faith, William James shared with his father a conviction that providential action in the universe, usually understood as the work of transcendental forces, was embedded within the natural world and within humankind. (shrink)
William James undertook to steer his way between a rationalistic system that was not empirical enough and an empirical system so materialistic that it could not account for the value commitments on which it rested. In arguing against both the absolutists (gnostics) and the empiricists (agnostics), he defined a position of pluralistic moralism that seemed equally distant from both, leaving himself vulnerable to the criticism that he had rescued morality from scientism only by reducing religion to morals. Such criticism, (...) however, ignores distinctions James made between religion and theology and between monistic theology and dualistic theology. When these distinctions are taken into account, it becomes evident that James can be criticized for reducing religion to morality only from the point of view of either absolute monism or religious humanism and that radical empiricism not only embraces a significant number of nonmoral religious experiences but also leaves open the possibility of belief in the particular historical God of traditional Christianity. (shrink)
William James and Wisconsin, by G.C. Sellery.--The distinctive philosophy of William James, by M.C. Otto.--William James, man and philosopher, by D.S. Miller.--William James and psychoanalysis, by Norman Cameron.--The William James centenary dinner: Introductory remarks, by C.A. Dykstra. William James and the world today, by John Dewey, read by Carl Boegholt. William James in the American tradition, by B.H. Bode.--The Sunday service: William James as religious thinker, by J.S. Bixler.
Philosophy of mathematics for the last half-century has been dominated in one way or another by Quine’s indispensability argument. The argument alleges that our best scientific theory quantifies over, and thus commits us to, mathematical objects. In this paper, I present new considerations which undermine the most serious challenge to Quine’s argument, Hartry Field’s reformulation of Newtonian Gravitational Theory.
This book offers a new interpretation of William James's ethical and religious thought. Michael Slater shows that James's conception of morality, or what it means to lead a moral and flourishing life, is intimately tied to his conception of religious faith, and argues that James's views on these matters are worthy of our consideration. He offers a reassessment of James's 'will to believe' or 'right to believe' doctrine, his moral theory, and his neglected moral arguments for (...) religious faith. And he argues that James's pragmatic account of religion is based on an ethical view of the function of religion and a realist view of the objects of religious belief and experience, and is compatible with his larger conception of pragmatism. The book will appeal to readers interested in the history of modern philosophy, especially pragmatism, as well as those interested in moral philosophy, religion, and the history of ideas. (shrink)
"Space," William James confessed, "is [both] a direfully difficult subject [and the] driest of subjects.'" Nonetheless, convinced that most previous accounts of space were either incoherent or mythological, he set out to describe space as it is actually experienced. His first effort, "The Spatial Quale," appeared in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1879. 2 This article is historically important; as Ralph Barton Perry notes, "his peculiar view of the amplitude and eonnectedness of experience seems to have begun with (...) the application to space. ''3 But, despite this fact, it is seldom read today. It was not reprinted in James's Collected Essays and Reviews because the editor found "no important difference" between the content of this article and that of the chapter in The Principles of Psychology dealing with the same topic. 4 And it has not been included in more recent anthologies of James's writings. James would undoubtedly have concurred with the reasoning behind these editorial decisions. In the preface to the Psychology he wrote: Chapter 20, on Space-perception, is a terrible thing, which, unless written with all that detail, could not be fairly treated at all. An abridgment of it, called The Spatial Quale' ... may be found by some persons a useful substitute for the entire chapter? In fact, however, there is a significant philosophical difference between... (shrink)
Modern ethics has been shaped by two dominant philosophical assumptions: (1) that there can be no theoretical knowledge of God, i.e., denial of metaphysics, and (2) that moral claims can be redeemed independently of theistic affirmations, i.e., morality does not require theism. These assumptions have influenced much of modern theological ethics. Yet, insofar as theological ethics accepts that morality does not require any explicit or implicit religious beliefs, it affirms that a secularistic morality is possible. But this affirmation is directly (...) at odds with the essence of theism, namely, that God is the source and end of all things, including the moral life. By accepting the dominant consensus, therefore, theological ethics undermines its fundamental theistic claim. Focusing on James Gustafson's theocentric ethics, I seek to show the price that theological ethics pays for subscribing to the dominant consensus. I argue that: (1) Gustafson embraces an inconsistent self-understanding, which undermines his theocentric claim, (2) this is due to his dismissal of metaphysics, and (3) his theocentric ethic would be more compelling if formulated in terms of Whitehead's process metaphysics. (shrink)
With this book, Jacques Barzun pays what he describes as an "intellectual debt" to William James—psychologist, philosopher, and, for Barzun, guide and mentor. Commenting on James's life, thought, and legacy, Barzun leaves us with a wise and civilized distillation of the great thinker's work.
This study looks at some of the traits that characterized Argentina’s scientific and university policies under the military regime that spanned from 1976 through 1983. To this end, it delves into a rarely explored empirical observation: financial resource transfers from national universities to the National Scientific and Technological Research Council (CONICET, for its Spanish acronym) during that period. The intention is to show how, by reallocating funds geared to Science and Technology, CONICET was made to expand and decentralize to the (...) detriment of universities. This was the primary tool used by the military regime to thwart higher education’s research development, bolstering research efforts at other realms. Thus, CONICET grew in budget, number of researchers, and staff size, creating new research institutes, while national universities struggled with reduced funding and were forced to shut down their institutes and programs. As a result, CONICET virtually concentrated all scientific research, foregoing the knowledge accumulated at universities, which drove a wedge between both institutions. This military approach to science and technology policy-making is discussed, bearing in mind the notion of dependence—both in terms of the state’s intervention in the inner workings of the scientific-university field as well as regarding the role played by international financial support in scientific research development. (shrink)
The modus operandi of this book is contextual—throughout he demonstrates how ideas emerge from or are inspired by particular environments. And the need to put philosophical ideas in their larger historical and cultural context so as to fully understand them is, as will be illustrated below, a facet of his philosophical method. Another of its facets is fallibilism, a deep commitment to subjecting all theories and concepts (in any field) to incessant scrutiny, testing, correction, and clarification. This suggests that (...) a totality of knowledge of the world or the absolute truth about things is a pair of ideals impossible of realization and approachable at best asymptotically. If his method is contextualist and fallilbilist, then his metaphysics is pluralistic. In his view reality is not reducible to just one single substance or principle but instead is constituted irreducibly of many different kinds of thing or principles. He is thus implacably opposed to any form of ontological monism—what James designates a “block-universe”—and Hegelian absolutism. Callaway conceives of the world as a Jamesian multiverse. Contextualism, fallibilism, and pluralism, then, are the themes brought to the fore in his book and which emerge from his travels at home and abroad. (shrink)
It has been remarked that there is a tendency in all Governments to an augmentation of power at the expense of liberty. But the remark as usually understood does not appear to me well founded.... It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the Government have too much or too little power, and that the line which divides the extremes should be so inaccurately drawn by experience. -/- Madison, letter to Jefferson, October 17, 1788.
Mosquito-borne diseases take a tremendous toll on human populations, especially in developing nations. In the last decade, scientists have developed mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to prevent transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, and field trials have been conducted. Some mosquitoes have been rendered infertile, some have been equipped with a vaccine they transmit to humans, and some have been designed to resist diseases. This article focuses on ethical issues raised by field trials of disease-resistant, genetically modified mosquitoes. Some (...) of these issues include: protecting the public and the environment from harm, balancing benefits and risks, collaborating with the local community, avoiding exploitation, and safeguarding the rights and welfare of research subjects. One of the most difficult problems involves protecting the welfare of community members who will be impacted by the release of mosquitoes but who are not enrolled in the study as research subjects. To address this concern, field trials should take place only when the targeted disease is a significant public health problem in an isolated area, the benefits of the trial for the community are likely to outweigh the risks, community leaders approve of the trial, and there are measures in place to protect the welfare of un-enrolled community members, such as informing the community about the study and offering free treatment to people who contract mosquito-borne diseases. Since the justification of any field trial depends on a careful examination of the scientific and ethical issues, proposed studies should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)