Contemporary Pragmatism 19 (1):23-34 (2022)

Authors
Alexander Livingston
Cornell University
Abstract
William James advocates strenuousness as the key to the moral life yet his hunger for extreme experiences sometimes leads him to risk sacrificing morality in their pursuit. This paradox is best represented by James’s fascination with soldiers and warfare as exemplars of the strenuous life. This essay examines the tension between strenuousness and morality in James’s ethical thought through the lens of his celebration of wildness. Wildness, I argue, names the hungry craving for meaning, lust for intense, novel, and risky experiences, and contempt for the banality of American modernity. In response to Sarin Marchetti and Trygve Throntveit’s recent interpretations of James’s moral thought, I argue that a fuller account of a radical empiricist approach to ethics – its originality, its contributions, its shortcomings – demands a deeper engagement with James’s craving for wildness and its implications for grasping the aesthetic-affective registers of his social criticism and political thought.
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DOI 10.1163/18758185-bja10029
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Phenomenology of Spirit.G. W. F. Hegel & A. V. Miller - 1977 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (4):268-271.
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The Divided Self of William James.Richard M. Gale - 2000 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 36 (1):161-168.

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