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.
Utilitarianism has often been understood as a theory that concerns itself first and foremost with the rightness of actions; but many other things are also properly subject to moral evaluation, and utilitarians have long understood that the theory must be able to provide an account of these as well. In a landmark article from 1976, Robert Adams argues that traditional act utilitarianism faces a particular problem in this regard. He argues that a on a sensible utilitarian account of the rightness (...) of an agent’s motives, right motives will sometimes conflict with right actions, leaving the theory internally incoherent. The puzzle Adams raises has received a good deal of attention but few proposed solutions. Fred Feldman, however, has offered a solution that seems to be gaining adherents. In this paper I argue that Feldman’s approach cannot succeed. At bottom, it relies on a version of the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’—and subsequently an account of an agent’s alternatives—that is far too restrictive to be plausible. Despite the failure of this solution, however, I argue that the conflict Adams develops is not as theoretically troubling as he suggests. While traditional act utilitarianism may fail for other reasons, it will not fail due to the conflict between acts and motives. (shrink)
Transcendental arguments offer a particularlypowerful strategy for combating skepticism. Such arguments, after all, attempt to show thata particular skepticism is not simply mistakenbut inconsistent or self-refuting. Whilethus tempting to philosophers struggling withskepticism of various sorts, the boldconclusions of these arguments have longrendered them suspicious in the eyes of many. In fact, in a famous paper from 1968 BarryStroud develops what is often taken to be adecisive case against transcendental argumentsin general.Recent work in the area of practical reason,however, suggests that such (...) arguments stillhave their defenders. Theorists such as JamesDreier and Christine Korsgaard have reliedexplicitly on transcendental arguments tojustify certain principles of practical reason. Can such arguments overcome Stroud's objection? In what follows, I argue that they can. However effective Stroud's general criticismmay be in other areas, it does not apply in therealm of practical reason. Nevertheless, thereare strict limits on how far transcendentalarguments can take us. In particular, despiteKorsgaard's efforts, they cannot succeed inestablishing a rational foundation formorality. (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)
Does Spinoza present philosophy as the preserve of an elite, while condemning the uneducated to a false though palliative form of ‘true religion’? Some commentators have thought so, but this contribution aims to show that they are mistaken. The form of religious life that Spinoza recommends creates the political and epistemological conditions for a gradual transition to philosophical understanding, so that true religion and philosophy are in practice inseparable.
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.
ABSTRACT: Central to both James’s earlier psychology and his later philosophical views was a recurring distinction between percepts and concepts. The distinction evolved and remained fundamental to his thinking throughout his career as he sought to come to grips with its fundamental nature and significance. In this chapter, I focus initially on James’s early attempt to articulate the distinction in his 1885 article “The Function of Cognition.” This will highlight a key problem to which James continued to (...) return throughout his later philosophical work on the nature of our cognition, including in his famous “radical empiricist” metaphysics of “pure experience” around the turn of the century. We shall find that James grappled insightfully but ambivalently with the perceptual and conceptual dimensions of the “knowledge relation” or the “cognitive relation,” as he called it—or what, following Franz Brentano, philosophers would later call our object-directed thought or intentionality more generally. Some philosophers have once again returned to James’s work for crucial insights on this pivotal topic, while others continue to find certain aspects of his account to be problematic. What is beyond dispute is that James’s inquiries in this domain were both innovative and of lasting significance. (shrink)
Reification is to abstraction as disease is to health. Whereas abstraction is singling out, symbolizing, and systematizing, reification is neglecting abstractive context, especially functional, historical, and analytical-level context. William James and John Dewey provide similar and nuanced arguments regarding the perils and promises of abstraction. They share an abstraction-reification account. The stages of abstraction and the concepts of “vicious abstractionism,” “/the/ psychologist’s fallacy,” and “the philosophic fallacy” in the works of these pragmatists are here analyzed in detail. For instance, (...) in 1896 Dewey exposes various fallacies associated with reifying dualistic reflex arc theory. The conclusion prescribes treatments (pluralism and assumption archaeology) for de-reifying ill models (i.e., universalized, narrowed, and ontologized models) in contemporary scientific fields such as cognitive science and biology. (shrink)
James a maintes fois célébré les rencontres philosophiques et l’on sait les efforts de James et de Bergson pour se voir, lors des passages de James en Europe. Proximité physique ne signifie évidemment pas convergence ni capillarité philosophiques, comme l’apprend à ses dépens Agathon dans le Banquet de Platon. Or, le rapprochement, mais aussi les confusions, entre la philosophie de Bergson et celle de James, voire entre « bergsonisme » et « pragmatisme », restent un passage (...) obligé de l’étude des deux hommes. Si cette confusion — peut-être ces familles de confusions — sont caractéristiques du début du XXe siècle , il serait sans doute illusoire de croire que nous en sommes sortis aujourd’hui. C’est en France une expérience encore très répandue chez le jamesien que devoir se justifier par rapport au « bergsonisme », et c’en est une autre pour le « bergsonien » que de devoir dire qu’il n’est pas forcément « pragmatiste ». Ces glissements ont déjà été maintes fois analysés et je tiendrai ici pour acquis que Horace Kallen , Floris Delattre , Ralph Barton Perry et Millic Capek , qui ont procédé à la revue de détail, nous ont donné suffisamment d’éléments pour qu’il ne soit pas nécessaire de reprendre le dossier dans son ensemble. Le propos sera plutôt de décomposer un travers de lecture que l’on inflige généralement aux deux auteurs à partir d’un terrain plus limité : le thème du « courant », ou flux (stream), de conscience, thème prétendument commun aux deux hommes. Je vais pour cela tenter d’identifier, dans la première section, deux grandes manières d’aborder le rapport entre les deux hommes qui ont conduit à méconnaître leur apport propre. L’une interdit tout simplement de les lire comme philosophes, même si elle est couramment pratiquée, ce que j’illustrerai à la lumière de deux exemples. L’autre type de lecture engage, lui, un contresens sur la thèse même de James, et c’est ici que la face critique de ce chapitre se retourne en argument positif. Le cœur de ce contresens est de croire que James aurait introduit le thème du courant de pensée ou de conscience, et que ce serait là son originalité. Or, comme il est normal chez un auteur pragmatiste après tout, l’originalité réside dans l’usage qui est fait de ce thème. En examinant dans la deuxième section les rouages de ce contresens, dont il n’est pas certain que tous les lecteurs de Bergson l’aient totalement évité alors même qu’ils pensaient le déposer, on tentera donc de préciser tout d’abord en quoi le thème lui-même n’est pas spécifiquement jamesien, ensuite en quoi le propos de James n’est pas tant de décrire ce flux pour lui-même que de nous expliquer ce qui nous guette si nous le négligeons systématiquement, enfin quelles sont les fonctions remplies par les passages sur le courant de conscience dans l’argument de James. (shrink)
Critics and defenders of William James both acknowledge serious tensions in his thought, tensions perhaps nowhere more vexing to readers than in regard to his claim about an individual’s intellectual right to their “faith ventures.” Focusing especially on “Pragmatism and Religion,” the final lecture in Pragmatism, this chapter will explore certain problems James’ pragmatic pluralism. Some of these problems are theoretical, but others concern the real-world upshot of adopting James permissive ethics of belief. Although Jamesian permissivism is (...) qualified in certain ways in this paper, I largely defend James in showing how permissivism has philosophical advantages over the non-permissivist position associated with evidentialism. These advantages include not having to treat disagreement as a sign of error or irrationality, and mutual support relations between permissivism and what John Rawls calls the "reasonable pluralism" at the heart of political liberalism. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of akrasia, drawn from the work of William James, that sees akrasia as neither a rational failing (as with most philosophical accounts) nor a moral failing (as with early Christian accounts), but rather a necessary by-product of our status as biological beings. By examining James’s related accounts of motivation and action, I argue that akratic actions occur when an agent attempts to act against her settled habits, but fails to do so. This makes (...) akrasia a product of the agent’s practical failure to adequately structured her environment to bring about her desired action. Akratic action performs the vital function of revealing to the agent the exact point at which her cognitive effort was insufficient for bringing about her intended action. It also reveals that future improvement is within her control. As such, akratic action is the very foundation of James’s meliorism. (shrink)