Introduction There is an enormous amount of confusion about what relativism is. In this paper I aim to take a step toward clarifying what it is by discussing some things that it is not — that is, by distinguishing it from some other views with which it is often confused or conflated, such as nihilism and scepticism. I do this primarily because I think that the question of the character of relativism is interesting in itself. A clearer characterization of relativism (...) would also be important instrumentally, however, as before we can accurately assess relativism we must have a clear idea of what it is. The secondary aim of this paper, then, is to function as a prolegomenon to an assessment of relativism. The tertiary aim of the paper is to make a few observations about the view which most clearly stands opposed to relativism, the view which I will call ‘objectivism.’ Because relativism is often confused with views like fallibilism and pluralism, objectivism often finds itself unjustly associated with views like infallibilism and political authoritarianism. (If this paper had a subtitle, it would be: ‘And What Objectivism Isn't.’) Although it is not the point of this paper to criticize relativism, I should make it clear that it began as a part of an anti-relativistic project, and, although anti-relativism is not necessarily objectivism, I should perhaps make it clear that I am more than a little sympathetic to the latter type of view. (shrink)
William James' Varieties of Religious Experience was published in 1902, and translated into German in 1907. This essay explores the develop ment of Max Weber's investigations into human psychology and forms of religious life, arguing that James' work had a lasting impact on Max Weber and coloured the development of his 'sociological' investi gations.
In Change of View: Principles of Reasoning, Gilbert Harman argues that (i) all genuine reasoning is a matter of belief revision, and that, since (ii) logic is not "specially relevant" to belief revision, (iii) logic is not specially relevant to reasoning, either. Thus, Harman suggests, what is needed is a "theory of reasoning"-which, incidentally, will be psychologistic, telling us both how we do and how we should reason. I argue that Harman fails to establish the need for such a theory, (...) because (a) reasoning is not always a matter of belief revision, and (b) logic is, in fact, of the utmost relevance to both reasoning and belief revision. (shrink)
In this thoughtful and literate study, Schwehn argues that Max Weber and several of his contemporaries led higher education astray by stressing research--the making and transmitting of knowledge--at the expense of shaping moral character. Schwehn sees an urgent need for a change in orientation and calls for a "spiritually grounded education in and for thoughtfulness." The reforms he endorses would replace individualistic behavior, the "doing my own work" syndrome derived from the Enlightenment, with a communitarian ethic grounded in Judeo-Christian spirituality. (...) Schwehn critiques philosophies of higher education he considers misguided, from Weber and Henry Adams to Derek Bok, Allan Bloom, and William G. Perry Jr. He draws out valid insights, always showing the theological underpinnings of the so-called secular thinkers. He emphasizes the importance of community, drawing on both the secular communitarian theory of Richard Rorty and that of the Christian theorist Parker Palmer. Finally, he outlines his own prescription for a classroom-centered spiritual community of scholars. Schwehn's study will interest all those concerned with higher education in America today: faculty, students, parents, alumni, administrators, trustees, and foundation officers. (shrink)
Every scholar and reader of William James is aware of his frequent uses of "energy," especially in his discussions of ethics and most notably in his 1906 Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association, "The Energies of Men". But while other interpretations treat James's use of "energy" as merely one of his several folksy metaphors, The Ethics of Energy: William James's Moral Philosophy in Focus is the first monograph, as its author, Sergio Franzese, rightly claims, to focus upon (...) "energy" as a central concept in James's ethics. Ethics, for James, is not about values, goods, or principles but about the organization of energy, especially into habits, in the service of personal, aesthetic ideals. As such this book is an original and valuable addition to the literature on James, and it does much to bring James into closer dialogue with other recent efforts to rethink ethics without appeal to some rule of reason, whether it be in the form of an utilitarian calculus or a categorical imperative. Such efforts include those of Friedrich Nietzsche, whom Franzese discusses extensively, Max Scheler, whom he mentions only briefly (51-52), and especially Michel Foucault, whom he does not mention at all. (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.
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.
Max Weber is noted for his diagnosis of the rationalization of life under capitalism. But in his social thought he also developed a powerful theory of the process of 'sociation' and associational life. This paper investigates the latter aspect of his thought in the context of his and Marianne Weber's American journey. Their observations about the religious sects, the African-American community, educational insti tutions, and the position of women reveal an understanding of democ ratization as a process of voluntaristic sociation, (...) whose original model is the sect. In these institutional settings and through their interactions with figures like William James, W. E. B. Du Bois, and M. Carey Thomas, the Webers develop a view of American social life that empha sizes the contribution of associative activity to the moral and political education of individuals, and to the creation of a distinctively modern form of democratic culture. (shrink)
Edited by Marthe Chandler and Ronnie Littlejohn, this work is a collection of expository and critical essays on the work of Henry Rosemont, Jr., a prominent and influential contemporary philosopher, activist, translator, and educator in the field of Asian and Comparative Philosophy. The essays in this collection take up three major themes in Rosemont's work: his work in Chinese linguistics, his contribution to the theory of human rights, and his interest in East Asian religion. Contributions include works by the leading (...) scholars in Chinese philosophy in the Western world and Rosemont's close associates: Roger T. Ames, Bao Zhiming, Mary Bockover, Marthe Chandler, Ewing Y. Chinn, Erin M. Cline, Fred Dallmayr, Jeffrey Dippmann, Herbert Fingarette, Harrison Huang, Eric Hutton, Philip J. Ivanhoe, David Jones, William La Fleur, Ronnie Littlejohn, Ni Peimin, Michael Nylan, Harold Roth, Sumner Twiss, Tu Weiming, David Wong, with responses from Henry Rosemont, Jr. and a brief Reminiscence by Noam Chomsky. (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.
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)
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.
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)
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. 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)
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)