The received view of Bergson's philosophy of life is that it advances some form of vitalism under the heading of an “élan vital.” This paper argues against the vitalistic interpretation of Bergson's élan vital as it appears in Creative Evolution in favor of an interpretation based on his overlooked reflections on entropy and energetics. Within the interpretation developed here, the élan vital is characterized not as a spiritualistic “vital force” but as a tendency of organization opposed to the tendency of (...) entropic degradation. It is then shown how Bergson's view of evolution and living organization resonates with more contemporary scientific approaches belonging to a “thermodynamic paradigm” in theoretical biology in different respects, including the critique of neo-Darwinism and the positing of a driving force behind evolution. Finally, the special interest that Bergson's philosophical biology bears today is considered in terms of the connection between the concepts of élan vital and duration. (shrink)
The concept of levels of organization, despite its widespread scientific currency, has recently been criticized by a number of philosophers of science. This paper diagnoses the main source of problems facing theories of levels. On this basis, the problems with the usual criteria for distinguishing levels are evaluated: compositional relations, organizational types, and spatial scales. Drawing on some work on hierarchies in ecology, I argue in favor of an alternative conception of levels defined by the criterion of rates or time (...) scales of processes. (shrink)
Token physicalism is often viewed as a modest and unproblematic physicalist commitment, as contrasted with type physicalism. This paper argues that the prevalence of functional individuation in biology creates serious problems for token physicalism, because the latter requires that biological entities can be individuated physically and without reference to biological functioning. After characterizing the main philosophical roles for token physicalism, I describe the distinctive uses of functional individuation in models of biological processes. I then introduce some requirements on token identity (...) claims that arise from a position on individuation and identity known as sortalism. An examination of biological examples shows that these sortalist requirements cannot be plausibly met due to differences between individuation by functional biological criteria and by physical criteria. Even without assuming sortalism, token physicalism faces the more basic problem of excluding functionally irrelevant detail from the individuation of biological tokens. I close by suggesting that the philosophical roles for token identity are better fulfilled by a notion of token composition, which promotes a hierarchical picture of individuality. (shrink)
This new edition of William James’s 1909 classic, A Pluralistic Universe reproduces the original text, only modernizing the spelling. The books has been annotated throughout to clarify James’s points of reference and discussion. There is a new, fuller index, a brief chronology of James’s life, and a new bibliography—chiefly based on James’s own references. The editor, H.G. Callaway, has included a new Introduction which elucidates the legacy of Jamesian pluralism to survey some related questions of contemporary (...) American society. -/- A Pluralistic Universe was the last major book James published during his life time. It is a substantial philosophical work, devoted to a thorough-going criticism of Hegelian monism and Absolutism—and the exploration of philosophical and social-theological alternatives. Our world of some one hundred years on is much the better for James’s contributions; and understanding James’s pluralism deeply contributes even now to America’s self-understanding. At present, we are more certain that American is, and is best, a pluralistic society, than we are of what particular forms our pluralism should take. Keeping an eye out for social interpretations of Jamesian pluralism, this new philosophical reading casts light on our twenty-first century alternatives by reference to prior American experience and developments. -/- . (shrink)
William James had the courage to experience the collision of European and American ways of thinking head on, and to emerge from it with a new philosophy - one displaying a remarkable vitality for dealing with the transformative issues at the core of the human condition. This easy to read introduction to his life and work explains why James' work is overwhelmingly valuable to us today in getting to grips with the spiritual dimension of human experience.
Individuality is an important concept in biology, yet there are many non-equivalent criteria of individuality expressed in different kinds of biological individuals. This paper evaluates these different kinds in terms of their capacity to support explanatory generalizations over the systems they individuate. Viewing the problem of individuality from this perspective promotes a splitting strategy in which different kinds make different epistemic trade-offs which suit them for different explanatory roles. I argue that evolutionary individuals, interpreted as forming a functional kind, face (...) difficulties of individuation and explanatory power that are mitigated by relying on more structurally based properties and non-evolutionary kinds. (shrink)
In his introduction to this collection, John representative. McDermott presents James's thinking in all its manifestations, stressing the importance of radical empiricism and placing into perspective the doctrines of pragmatism and the will to believe. The critical periods of James's life are highlighted to illuminate the development of his philosophical and psychological thought. The anthology features representive selections from The Principles of Psychology, The Will to Believe , and The Variety of Religious Experience in addition to the complete (...) Essays in Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe . The original 1907 edition of Pragmatism is included, as well as classic selections from all of James's other major works. Of particular significance for James scholarship is the supplemented version of Ralph Barton Perry's Annotated Bibliography of the Writings of William James , with additions bringing it up to 1976. (shrink)
When William James spoke about belief to the philosophy clubs of Yale and Brown in 1896, he forewarned his audience of the nature of his comments by describing them as a “sermon on justification by faith” (James 13), titling the talk “The Will to Believe.” Although there is disagreement about the substance of James’s remarks, it is fairly innocuous to assert that James thought they were appropriate because of the prevalence of the “logical spirit” of many (...) of those who practiced academic philosophy that led them to the conclusion that religious faith was untenable. Aware of his audience, James presents his view on the permissibility of religious faith on the terms and grounds familiar to professional philosophers. .. (shrink)
In the _World Library of Educationalists_, international experts themselves compile career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces – extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, major theoretical and practical contributions – so the world can read them in a single manageable volume, allowing readers to follow the themes of their work and see how it contributes to the development of the field. Mary James has researched and written on a range of educational subjects which (...) encompass curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in schools, and implications for teachers´ professional development, school leadership and policy frameworks. She has written many books and journals on assessment, particularly assessment for learning and is an expert on teacher learning, curriculum, leadership for learning and educational policy. Starting with a specially written introduction in which Mary gives an overview of her career and contextualises her selection, the chapters are divided into three parts: Educational Assessment and Learning Educational Evaluation and Curriculum Development Educational Research and the Improvement of Practice Through this book, readers can follow the different strands that Mary James has researched and written about over the last three decades, and clearly see her important contribution to the field of education. (shrink)
The Essential William James covers the primary topics for which James is still closely studied: the nature of experience, the functions of the mind, the criteria for knowledge, the definition of “truth,” the ethical life, and the religious life. His notable terms, still resonating in their respective fields, are all covered here, from “stream of consciousness” and “pure experience” to the “will to believe,” the “cash-value of truth,” and the distinction between the religiously “healthy soul” and the “sick (...) soul.” This volume’s eighteen selections receive the bulk of the attention and citation from scholars, provide excellent coverage of core topics, and have a broad appeal across many academic disciplines. (shrink)
William James is one of the founders of Pragmatism. _The Principles of Psychology_, is his attempt to separate metaphysics and psychology, and is his major work. _Essays in Radical Empiricism_ is James’ ontology, his theory of perception and his theory of intentionality; his full metaphysical position. Eric James provides a lively and engaging guide to these key texts, and explores their philosophical contexts, as well as their relationship to each other. He introduces: James’ unique philosophical vision (...)James’ life and the background of _The Principles of Psychology_, and _Essays in Radical Empiricism_ Modern resonances of James’s work in the ideas of twentieth century thinkers _The Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to William James on Psychology and Metaphysics_ is the ideal introduction for students who wish to understand more about this important philosopher and these classics works of philosophy. (shrink)
v. 1. William and Henry, 1861-1884 -- v. 2. William and Henry, 1885-1896 -- v. 3. William and Henry, 1897-1910 -- v. 4. 1856-1877 -- v. 5. 1878-1884 -- v. 6. 1885-1889 -- v. 7. 1890-1894 -- v. 8. 1895-June 1899 -- v. 9. July 1899-1901 -- v. 10. 1902-March 1905 -- v. 11. April 1905-March 1908 -- v. 12. April 1908-August 1910.
Butler refused to be satisfied with just one leading principle, or rational basis for human action, but in the end settled for three: self-love, to provide for our ‘own private good’; benevolence, to consider ‘the good of our fellow creatures’ ; and conscience, ‘to preside and govern’ over our lives as a whole . By so doing he hoped to ensure a completeness to our ethical scheme, so that nothing would be omitted from our moral deliberations. Yet by so doing (...) he also exposed himself to severe criticism. For any such appeal to a plurality of principles, as Green remarked, is ‘repugnant both to the philosophic craving for unity, and to that ideal of “singleness of heart” which we have been accustomed to associate with the highest virtue’. More specifically, by appealing to a plurality of principles Butler faced the charges of circularity, where the principles come to define and defend each other; inconsistency, where the principles ‘take turns’ at being primary and hence render each other superfluous; and incompleteness, where the ‘primary principle’ is itself undefined or undefended. As the tale has been told Butler stands accused of all three of these errors. (shrink)
What is an emotion? -- The dilemma of determinism -- The perception of reality -- The hidden self -- Habit -- The will -- The gospel of relaxation -- On a certain blindness in human beings -- What makes a life significant -- Philosophical conceptions and practical results -- The Philippine tangle -- The sick soul -- The Ph. D. octopus -- Does "consciousness" exist? -- The energies of men -- Concerning Fechner -- The moral equivalent of war.