ABSTRACTIn an early modern context, ‘vitalistic’ natural philosophies had been associated with antiauthoritarian political theories. Whilst mechanical philosophy has been characterized as amenable to conservative politics on account of the structural analogies between passive and inert particles that can only be organized by externally imposed strict mechanical laws on the one hand, and similarly passive citizens, on the other, vitalism understood as a monistic, dynamic materialism purportedly implicated alternative modes of agency and organization. This alternative model incorporated inherently active, self-organizing (...) agents allegedly capable of bringing about higher structures in a bottom-up fashion both in the natural and in political realm. In this paper, I focus on James Harrington’s appropriation of William Harvey’s physiology and examine whether the republican philosopher actually made use of the political potential said to be inherent in vitalistic discourse. I intend to show that Harrington, rather than boldly capitalizing on vitalism’s decentralizing and democratic potential, adapts his physiological imagery to his wider set of ideas concerning human nature and moral psychology underpinning his politics. Simple analogy between vitalism and antiauthoritarianism is then lost in Harrington’s writings, pointing to a more complex relationship between early modern natural and political philosophy. (shrink)
Teaching economics has been shown to encourage students to defect in a prisoner's dilemma game. However, can ethics training reverse that effect and promote cooperation? We conducted an experiment to answer this question. We found that students who had the ethics module had higher rates of cooperation than students without the ethics module, even after controlling for communication and other factors expected to affect cooperation. We conclude that the teaching of ethics can mitigate the possible adverse incentives of the prisoner's (...) dilemma, and, by implication, the adverse effects of economics and business training. (shrink)
Social conditions of race and class continue to combine in ways that raise systemic questions about the adequacy and legitimacy of liberal, capitalist democracy in America. More radical alternatives, however, are still generally held to be irrelevant in the American context. The following is an effort to correct this widespread misrepresentation of socialism’s relevance to America generally, and to matters of race in particular. I consider the work of C.L.R. James who, fifty years ago, developed a class-oriented, explicitly Marxist (...) theory in which the aspirations and struggles of African-Americans were given a central place, both analytically and politically. (shrink)
Henry Johnstone's philosophical development was guided by a persistent need to reform the concept of validity -either by reinterpreting it or by finding a substitute for it. This project lead Johnstone into interesting confrontations with the concept of rhetoric and especiaUy with the work of Chaim Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca. The project culminated in a failed attempt to develop a formal ethics of rhetoric and argumentation, but this attempt was itself not consistent with some of Johnstone's other characterizations ofan ethics of (...) argument ation. A virtue ethics would be truer to the Johnstonian philosophical project than a formal ethics of argument. Resume. (shrink)
Pragmatic arguments seek to justify the performance of an action by appealing to the benefits that may follow from that action. Pascal’s wager, for instance, argues that one should inculcate belief in God because there is everything to gain and little to lose by doing do. In this chapter I critically examine Pascal’s wager and William James’s famous “Will-to-Believe” argument by first explaining the logic of each argument and then by surveying the objections commonly arrayed against them. Finally, I (...) suggest that among the various versions of the wager found in Pascal’s Pensées is a neglected version that anticipates the Jamesian argument and that avoids the many-gods objection. (shrink)
In this paper, I'm giving an account of William James's reception in the columns of Charles Renouvier's journal, La Critique philosophique. The papers explores the discussions between James and Renouvier on Free Will, Philosophical systems, Consciousness and Pluralism.
In 1896 William James published an essay entitled The Will to Believe, in which he defended the legitimacy of religious faith against the attacks of such champions of scientific method as W.K. Clifford and Thomas Huxley. James's work quickly became one of the most important writings in the philosophy of religious belief. James Wernham analyses James's arguments, discusses his relation to Pascal and Renouvier, and considers the interpretations, and misinterpretations, of James's major critics. Wernham shows (...) convincingly that James was unaware of many destructive ambiguitities in his own doctrines and arguments, although clear and consistent in his view that our obligation to believe in theism is not a moral but a prudential obligation -- a foolish-not-to-believe doctrine, rather than a not-immoral-to-believe one. Wernham also shows that the doctrine is best read as affirming the wisdom of gambling that God exists, a notion which James failed to distinguish from believing and which, among other things, he explicitly identified with faith. James's pragmatism, a theory concerning the meaning of truth, is shown to be quite distinct from the doctrine of The Will to Believe. In concentrating on a careful analysis of this doctrine of the will-to-believe, Wernham not only makes a major contribution to understanding James's philosophy, but also clarifies issues in the philosophy of religion and in the analysis of belief and faith. (shrink)
William James is notorious for the large number of inconsistencies and at least apparent contradictions in his writings. Many readers conclude that he should be appreciated more for his profound but erratic insights than for any coherent philosophical perspective. Ellen Kappy Suckiel disagrees. She argues that James is far more careful and systematic than many readers realize. Her work on James is guided by the attempt to lay bare his coherent philosophical vision and the consistent philosophical methodology (...) underlying it. As a result of this approach, Suckiel's work on James is both sympathetic to his philosophical insights and carefully argued. In her first book, The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James (1982), Suckiel applies this approach to James's philosophy as a whole. The result is a work of remarkable clarity and insight that serves as a wonderful introduction to James's thought. In her more recent book, Suckiel applies this approach specifically to James's philosophy of religion, with similar felicitous results. Heaven's... (shrink)
The present paper deals thus with some fundamental agreements and disagreements between Peirce and James, on crucial issues such as perception and consciousness. When Peirce first read the Principles, he was sketching his theory of the categories, testing its applications in many fields of knowledge, and many investigations were launched, concerning indexicals, diagrams, growth and development. James's utterances led Peirce to make his own views clearer on a wide range of topics that go to the heart of the (...) foundations of psychology and that involve the relationship between perception and logic, between consciousness and the categories, between abstraction and the 'stream of thought'. The idea is to show that Peirce detected important discoveries and insights in the Principles, but felt that James could not make proper use of them because of logical confusions, and also because of his "clandestine" metaphysics. The point in this essay is thus not to look for remains of psychologism in Peirce's writings,13 but to look at Peirce's comments about James's psychology in an attempt to identify where and why Peirce amended James's views. Since the project to provide some insight on Peirce's extensive reading ofJames's Principles of Psycho/.ogy would deserve a full volume, I shall focus here on three occasions where Peirce explicidy commented on Jarnes's Principles. In the first section, I shall consider bis assessment of James's chapter on space, which was published as a series of articles in 1887, in Mind. I shall then turn to the 1891 review of the Principles in The Nation for important complements on perception as inference. In the third section, I shall deal with Peirce's manuscript "Questions on James's Principles"(Rl099). These "Questions" reveal a deep interest in psychological problems and suggest different ways along which Peirce's new advances in the field of the categories, of continuity, and abstraction could provide a proper basis for the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Our aim in this article, after providing the general framework of the reception of William James in Spain, is to trace the reception of The Varieties of Religious Experience through Unamuno’s reading of this book.
Harvey and Highmore experimented together on chick fetuses at Oxford in the early 1640s, yet in 1651 published significantly different treatises on generation that emphasize their reliance on observations and dissections of fetal chicks at different stages of incubation. The key differences follow from their views on matter and souls. Harvey conceives of living bodies as governed by Aristotelian souls and faculties. Highmore views matter as made of corpuscles and describes organs as involved in chemical procedures. Highmore's treatise (...) is a response to Digby's claim that heat, moisture, and pressure could explain generation. Although Digby's treatment lacks Harvey's and Highmore's attention to detail, it offers a point of comparison that leads to a more nuanced understanding of their explanation. Moreover, Highmore's dedication of his work to Boyle provides a new perspective on both men's intellectual evolution from the latter part of the 1640s to 1651. (shrink)
William James's 'The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of sug gesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics con tinue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" con fuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs-not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional (...) stress of abandoning them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended pro vided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (includ ing wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
Wesley Cooper opposes the traditional view of William Jamesís philosophy which dismissed it as fragmented or merely popular, arguing instead that there is a systematic philosophy to be found in James's writings. His doctrine of pure experience is the binding thread that links his earlier psychological theorizing to his later epistemological, religious, and pragmatic concerns.
De generatione was the last of the three works published by William Harvey during his lifetime. Although this work on generation was most ambitious, being the product of prolonged and detailed researches, it has received relatively little attention from modern writers. It is generally felt that this work, like William Gilbert's De mundo, departs significantly from the more pronounced empirical approach to science which characterized Harvey's first publication, De motu cordis. De generatione shows that Harvey regarded reference (...) to teleological and vitalistic principles as necessary for the solution of crucial problems in biology. In this respect he differed from his contemporaries, the iatrochemical and iatromechanical physiologists, whose non-teleological approach seems, at least superficially, to be in sympathy with the modern biological tradition. The structure and content of De generatione are so evidently determined by Aristotle's biological writings, that the work is used to illustrate Harvey's failure to emancipate himself from the philosophical encumbrances of antiquity. (shrink)
: William James's "The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs—not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of (...) abandoning them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
Those sympathetic to the naturalistic side of James hope that his critique of ‘philosophical materialism’ can be separated from those elements of his thinking that are essential to his pragmatism. Such a separation is possible once we see that James’s critique of materialism grows out of his views about its incompatibility with the existence of objective values. Objective values (as James understands them) are incompatible, however, not with materialism in its most general form, but rather with materialism (...) that understood the ‘material world’ in terms of the sciences of the late nineteen hundreds. In particular, one could not defend the potential objectivity of value in the way that James hoped if one endorsed the particular ‘pessimistic’ cosmology characteristic of the sciences at the turn of the last century. Consequently, if one rejects certain ‘empirical assumptions’ associated with the science of James’s day, the possibility of a type of ‘melioristic materialism’ opens up, and this sort of materialist could still understand value in the way that James proposes. (shrink)
: It is part of the conventional wisdom about the James family that the elder Henry James (1811–82) had a large influence on his son, William James (1842–1910), in the direction of religious interests. But William neither adopted his father's spirituality nor did he regard it as a foil to his own secularity. Instead, after first rejecting the elder James's idiosyncratic faith, he became increasingly intrigued with his insights into the natural world, which were in turn (...) shaped by the Swedenborgian philosophy of correspondences and use, which depict worldly facts as vessels of the spirit. The young science student drew upon this approach to nature as a resource for finding the operation of immaterial aspects within the world. The influence of the father emerges in William's emphasis on the will in human psychology, his eagerness to punctuate the striving of "the will to believe" with sessions of comforting conviction, his readiness to find "'piecemeal' supernaturalism" in subliminal psychology, his incorporation of idealism into his radical empiricism, and his openness to psychical experience. Without accepting the particulars of Henry James's faith, William James shared with his father a conviction that providential action in the universe, usually understood as the work of transcendental forces, was embedded within the natural world and within humankind. (shrink)