As John Henry Newman reflected on 'The Idea of a University' more than a century and a half ago, Bradley C. S. Watson brings together some of the nation's most eminent thinkers on higher education to reflect on the nature and purposes of the American university today. Their mordant reflections paint a picture of the American university in crisis. This book is essential reading for thoughtful citizens, scholars, and educational policymakers.
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)
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.
This first chapter locates crucial elements of James's notion of truth within James's 'The Will to Believe." James recognizes evidential criteria in the formation of belief, in contrast to a common claim that for him beliefs are generated in an evidential vacuum. Jamess view of evidence in "The Will to Believe" also stands as a pragmatic reappraisal of traditional epistemology, and such criteria are individualistic. But his treatment should not be taken as subjectivist, in the sense that (...) personal whim or desire always override evidential criteria in the formation of belief. Rather, James's view allows him to avoid both subjectivism and traditional evidentialism. The second chapter suggests that "The Will to Believe" also contains a notion of pluralism, which is intimately related to radical empiricism. James develops two levels of pluralism, individualistic and social. Whereas the first chapter concerns inquiry on an individual level, the second locates the individual within society. James's position on pluralism is also discussed briefly in relation to contemporary ethical theory. Perhaps James's most important notion is that of an "intellectual republic." Such a republic would emerge from a productive mediation between the two levels of pluralism outlined in the essay. In closing, it is suggested that the relationship between James and Josiah Royce illustrates James's ideal of such mediation. The third chapter develops notions of social inquiry hinted at by James within the more radically social philosophy of John Dewey. Following a brief discussion of Platonic assumptions regnant in contemporary discussions, Dewey's views are offered as an alternative to some unpalatable consequences of Platonism. A brief discussion of Dewey's metaphysics and epistemology follows; Dewey manages to avoid both Platonism and relativism, while maintaining the stable and precarious elements traditionally associated with either approach. In conclusion, it is suggested that Dewey's use of the stable and precarious constitute a basis for his notion of criticism, where inquiry is viewed not as a bid for ultimate clarity, but rather as a pattern of interrelationships between elements imbedded within context. Since escape from context is impossible, clarity is also contextual. (shrink)
Principled discussions of civil rights became inherently less likely as a direct result of the observation by Earl Warren, in Brown v. Board of Education, that, respecting freedmen, “Education of Negroes was almost non-existent, and practically all of the race were illiterate,” and in proportion as that observation increasingly became the foundation of common opinion on the subject. Warren's observation was not true in any meaningful or non-trivial sense. Nevertheless, it served to perpetuate the myth of a backward people needing (...) help to catch up instead of the truth of a people being held back. That is the perspective – the disadvantaged group perspective – that ultimately infected all discussion of civil rights, even after the designation of so-called “disadvantaged groups” had been extended beyond American blacks. To define civil rights, we may well begin with what all mankind would likely recognize. Thus the dictionary definition of “civil rights” stands: “the rights that belong to all individuals in a nation or community touching property, marriage, and the like.” In that definition the term “rights” may be further expanded to mean “legitimate claims,” following the definition of right as law – as “a claim or title or interest in anything whatever that is enforceable by law.” This definition applies with minimal distinction of regimes intruding and, therefore, without the host of recent complications in the United States that create the impression that civil rights have something to do with pluralism. Previously, the generic definition was thought to exhaust the meaning of the term in the United States. (shrink)
Chapter One distinguishes the early, individualistic, writings from the later, more socially conscious ones. The metaphysical language of impermeable surfaces and levels, and rigid hierarchies, is consonant in James's writing with the assumption of what Dewey calls an individual/society split. ;Chapter Two focuses upon the relational self from the Principles of Psychology. The central pair of terms is that of strength/fragility, in which a self is revealed that is both functionally efficacious through activities of emphasis, selection, and negation, and (...) permeable to context. ;Chapter Three discusses the "social organism" and the "intellectual republic" from The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy. James uses more socially conscious metaphors, and discusses the public and the private; "inner" and "outer" tolerance; and the "personal contribution," "X," which must be added to the "world," "M." ;Chapter Four discusses the "nucleus" of relations from Essays in Radical Empiricism. The personal aspect of social experience falls within the realm of "co-conscious relations" and the public falls within the sphere of the "conterminous." The strong side of the self, from Chapter Two; the private, or personal; inner tolerance; and the personal contribution, "X," from Chapter Three, belong to the sphere of co-conscious relations, as discussed in Chapter Four, just as the fragile side, the public; outer tolerance; and the world, "M," all belong to the sphere of conterminous relations. ;Chapter Five discusses the metaphor of Papini's corridor from Pragmatism. The adjoining rooms can be seen to symbolize the sphere of co-conscious relations, and the corridor of conterminous ones. The metaphysics of background and foreground points to an instrumentalist interpretation of the self, which represents a complete departure from James's early individualism. (shrink)
Wisely, the authors begin this book by describing it as a polemic. They argue that most contemporary analytic metaphysics is a waste of time and resources since contemporary ‘neo-scholastic’ metaphysical theorizing cannot hope to attain objective truth given its penchant for making a priori claims about the nature of the world which are backed up by appeal to intuition. In engaging in this activity, metaphysicians have, the authors claim, abandoned hope of locating any interesting connection between their metaphysical pronouncements and (...) how our best empirical theories describe the world. Moreover, the success attained by empirical science just cannot be matched by metaphysical theorizing and so, faced with this asymmetry, empirical science wins: a priori metaphysical theorizing must give way to a naturalistic form of metaphysics, a positive account of which the authors attempt to elucidate in the second and third, rather lengthy chapters of the book.The first chapter consists of a statement of the authors’ negative view, a vigorous, sustained and sometimes withering attack upon contemporary a priori metaphysics. Most ire is reserved for those who indulge in what the authors call ‘pseudo-scientific metaphysics’; that is, those who pay lip service to keeping their metaphysical speculation in tune with physics, only to constrain their ontology in such a way that the entities and processes within it do not even play a role in current physical theory, or are in straightforward contradiction with it. Much philosophy of science and scientific metaphysics is too superficial and simplistic to deserve the name and bears more relation to ‘the philosophy of “A” Level chemistry’. The guilty in this respect include David Lewis, Jaegwon Kim, Jonathan Lowe, Donald Davidson, Jerry Fodor, Crawford Elder, Trenton Merricks among …. (shrink)
An edition of the letters of Erasmus, regarded as one of the greatest humanist writers. All 12 volumes of this work have been reissued, complete with their scholarly apparatus of commentary and notes, as well as plates.
Goodman’s book is neither a survey, nor a comprehensive history of American philosophy before pragmatism emerged in the late nineteenth century in the works of Charles S. Peirce and William James, nor does it explore undiscovered depths of American thought possibly overlooked or lost to time. Rather, Goodman’s treatment of five men—-Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau—attempts to follow James’s understanding of what philosophies are and to “convey each writer’s feel for (...) the ‘whole push’ of things”. In that regard, Goodman succeeds and gives the reader a sense of each man’s motivations. Each is given his own chapter, including an interlude and an... (shrink)
marilyn fischer’s careful historiographical treatment of the ideas and life of Jane Addams deepens our understanding of Addams’s important work as a thinker and practitioner. The paper paints a picture of the ideological and sociological landscape of Addams’s world, paying close attention to the relationships Addams had with other prominent thinkers of the day, such as the African Americans W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, as well as the pragmatist Josiah Royce. Fischer seems to have doubled aims (...) in the paper. On the one hand, she makes a set of claims that helps us understand Addams better as a historical thinker. On the other hand, the paper advances another set of claims about Addams’s relation to .. (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.