Aim of this work is to dispel the myth of the "vagueness" of naturalism. Between the Thirties and the Forties, naturalism moves “from old Europe to dynamic America” (as the historian Larrabee said). The controversy with visionary and fascist European theories was indeed very strong in the academic culture of the Thirties and Forties. The idea was to oppose to the former the virtue of a liberal democracy, supported by the liberality of the scientific method.In short, the cultural fight was between naturalism and metaphysics (considered as theology). Naturalizing the "spirit" was the great ambition of American naturalistic programs of the Forties. They culminated with the publication of the ideological manifesto “Naturalism and the Human Spirit” (New York, 1944), edited by the John Dewey's group of Columbia. From Ernest Nagel to Sydney Hook, Roy Wood Sellars, William Sheldon and Arthur E. Murphy, all prominent American philosophers took part, in one way or another, to the naturalistic project. This latter aimed to be more than a simple "doctrine", by presenting itself as an expression of a new “mental attitude”, a fresh way of considering traditional unsolved problems. All this lead to the production of a new form of rhetoric, which in turn carried with itself a hidden ideology. Objective rationality embodied by scientific procedures became the totem to play against everything that would present itself as “just-subjective”, metaphysical, all-encompassing. A new idea of philosophy began to emerge, one that was less metaphysical, more humanistic and democratic, and concerned itself with “restricted, but manageable questions” (E. Nagel).
|Keywords||naturalism american philosophy epistemology history of ideas|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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