Review: H.G. Callaway, Memories and Portraits: Explorations in American Thought [Book Review]

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.
Keywords American philosophy  pluralism  contextualism  Willaim James
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DOI 10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.47.4.534
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Richard A. S. Hall (2012). Memories and Portraits: Explorations in American Thought. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 47 (4):534-537.
Phil Oliver (2009). Review: H.G. Callaway (Ed.) James, A Pluralistic Universe by William James. [REVIEW] Newsletter of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy 37 (108).
Phil Oliver (2009). Review of H.G. Callaway, Ed. William James, A Pluralistic Universe. [REVIEW] Newsletter of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy 108 (Nov):28-30.

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