Was James Ward a Cambridge Pragmatist?

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):557-581 (2014)
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Although the Cambridge Professor of Mental Philosophy and Logic James Ward was once one of Britain's most highly regarded Psychologists and Philosophers, today his work is unjustly neglected. This is because his philosophy is frequently misrepresented as a reactionary anti-naturalistic idealist theism. In this article, I argue, first, that this reading is false, and that by viewing Ward through the lens of pragmatism we obtain a fresh interpretation of his work that highlights the scientific nature of his philosophy and his original and promising theory of ‘evolutionary Kantianism’, with its applications to the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics. Second, I show that reading Ward as a pragmatist provides us with (1) a more complex history of the reception of pragmatism at Cambridge at the turn of the twentieth century than the straightforwardly hostile one traditionally told; and (2) a more detailed understanding of the wide range of philosophical problems to which pragmatism was deemed at this time to have an appropriate application.



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Jeremy William Dunham
Durham University

Citations of this work

Pragmatism at Cambridge, England before 1900.Lukas M. Verburgt - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (1):84-105.
James ward.Pierfrancesco Basile - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980.Richard Rorty - 1982 - University of Minnesota Press.
The American Pragmatists.Cheryl Misak - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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