On “Those Truths of Experience Upon Which Philosophy Is Founded”

Journal of Philosophical Research 28 (9999):55-70 (2003)
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At the turn of the nineteenth century, American pragmatists claimed that philosophy rests on experience. Variations of their empiricism persist at the beginning ofthe twenty-first century, but, I argue, the notion of experience remains under-analyzed. In this paper I examine Peirce’s and James’s contrasting views of the relation between experience and philosophy, comparing their views with Descartes’s, and I re-enter Dewey’s question, “What are the data of philosophy?” Do different individuals have different data? As it is a commonplace of the twenty-first century that our experiences vary widely with our individual life circumstances and that there are fault lines in human experience that can be organized by notions of gender, race, ethnicity and culture, and historical and economic circumstances, I also consider whether that commonplace has any import for philosophy.



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