Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking

Gorham, ME: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Eric C. Sheffield (2014)
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One of the great American pragmatic philosophers alongside Peirce and Dewey, William James (1842–1910) delivered these eight lectures in Boston and New York in the winter of 1906–7. Though he credits Peirce with coining the term 'pragmatism', James highlights in his subtitle that this 'new name' describes a philosophical temperament as old as Socrates. The pragmatic approach, he says, takes a middle way between rationalism's airy principles and empiricism's hard facts. James' pragmatism is both a method of interpreting ideas by their practical consequences and an epistemology which identifies truths according to their useful outcomes. Furnished with many examples, the lectures illustrate pragmatism's response to classic problems such as the question of free will versus determinism. Published in 1907, this work further develops James's approach to religion and morality, introduced in The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), both reissued in this series.



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