John Lachs, one of American philosophy's most distinguished interpreters, turns to William James, Josiah Royce, Charles S. Peirce, John Dewey, and George Santayana to elaborate stoic pragmatism, or a way to live life within reasonable limits. Stoic pragmatism makes sense of our moral obligations in a world driven by perfectionist human ambition and unreachable standards of achievement. Lachs proposes a corrective to pragmatist amelioration and stoic acquiescence by being satisfied with what is good enough. This personal, yet modest, philosophy offers (...) penetrating insights into the American way of life and our human character. (shrink)
Whatever specific beliefs pragmatists share concerning experience, knowledge, value, and meaning, they generally agree that a central part of the business of life is to make life better. James speaks of the ideal of meeting all needs, Royce of defeating evil, and Dewey of making experience richer and more secure. They are at one in thinking that human intelligence can make a vast difference to how well we live, and they extol the possibility of improving our circumstances. They tend to (...) be dissatisfied with the status quo and see indefinitely sustained amelioration as the solution to our problems. Stoics, in sharp contrast, are quick to call attention to the limits of our powers and recommend accepting them without complaint. They tend to think that only our beliefs and attitudes fall securely in our control. Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius agree that anything we would consider an improvement of the human condition is temporary and that, in any case, fulfilling our desires accomplishes little. The key to living well, they maintain, is control over self, not over circumstance, and they embrace inner calm in the face of whatever misfortune befalls us. Even such a brief characterization of these two great philosophical traditions makes it clear that pragmatic ambition and... (shrink)
The _Encyclopedia of American Philosophy_ provides coverage of the major figures, concepts, historical periods and traditions in American philosophical thought. Containing over 600 entries written by scholars who are experts in the field, this _Encyclopedia_ is the first of its kind. It is a scholarly reference work that is accessible to the ordinary reader by explaining complex ideas in simple terms and providing ample cross-references to facilitate further study. The _Encyclopedia of American Philosophy_ contains a thorough analytical index and will (...) serve as a standard, comprehensive reference work for universities and colleges. Topics covered include: Great philosophers: Emerson, Dewey, James, Royce, Peirce, Santayana Subjects: Pragmatism, Progress, the Future, Knowledge, Democracy, Growth, Truth Influences on American Philosophy: Hegel, Aristotle, Plato, British Enlightenment, Reformation Self-Assessments: Joe Margolis, Donald Davidson, Susan Haack, Peter Hare, John McDermott, Stanley Cavell Ethics: Value, Pleasure, Happiness, Duty, Judgment, Growth Political Philosophy: Declaration of Independence, Democracy, Freedom, Liberalism, Community, Identity. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to examine the structure, appreciate some of the strengths and criticize a major weakness of Rescher's pragmatism. Rescher's pragmatic commitments are well-articulated. His reasons for embracing realism are strikingly similar to Santayana's. His insistence, however, that inquiry and communication constitute central human activities privileges talk, propositional knowledge and cognitive achievement. His position would be stronger if he placed cognitive activities in the broader context of the rich non-propositional flow of life.
The history of philosophy resembles a convention of deaf-mutes. Each participant attempts to communicate the secrets of his private imagination through a swirl of silent gestures. Intent on disclosing his own insight, each is confined in his own world: he has no ear for the language of others and often little knowledge of how to make them understand his. The carnival of controversy which ensues is grotesque in the eyes of the outsider but tragic for the thoughtful participant. For in (...) the history of philosophy many more messages are sent than are received, and the ones that are received come to us mutilated, infected by our own perspective and interests. In our own way each of us distorts or discards the central judgments of almost everyone else. The dead sign-language of the printed word is inadequate to span a century. Philosophers signal like wild semaphores that lost their common code. (shrink)
In the light of this attention, it is surprising that we are unable to find a single writer who has noted an obvious contradiction between the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding on the subject of belief. In the Treatise Hume explicitly proposes a definition of belief. He says.
To show that this contention is unfounded I will examine six of the most popular arguments against the impotence hypothesis. Each of these arguments has been considered conclusive against epiphenomenalism by one distinguished philosopher or another. My strategy will be to separate the arguments into three major groups; I will then state each as clearly as I can, and attempt to assess their force impartially.
Male cats mate happily with any female in heat in the neighborhood. Something similar occurs in colleges as nearness and availability overwhelm all other considerations. So we see young men and women marry people who happen to be at hand when the time is ripe.
In Scepticism and Animal Faith, Santayana pursues two projects: the development of a philosophy of animal faith and the presentation of an ontology. The two projects are not easily reconciled and Santayana appears not to have distinguished them or recognized that they pull in different directions. The hypothesis that he has two projects explains a variety of the anomalous features of Santayana's philosophy, including the account of matter concerning which Kerr-Lawson and I have long disagreed.
Leading Harvard philosophy professor William Ernest Hocking , author of 17 books and in his day second only to John Dewey in the breadth of his thinking, is now largely forgotten, and his once-influential writings are out of print. This volume, which combines a rich selection of Hocking's work with incisive essays by distinguished scholars, seeks to recover Hocking's valuable contributions to philosophical thought.
If I have been correct in my surmise that Weiss is no reductionist in the ordinary sense, then it is evident that he can offer no definition of mind in any ordinary or straightforward manner. The only way in which he could offer a definition would be, on the basis of the ontological reducibility of mind, by reference to Actuality of which it is asserted to be a function. But Weiss has not provided such a definition, nor is it easy (...) to see how this omission could be rectified. For the proposition that mind is an expression of the self, the most obvious candidate for a definition, does not identify mind uniquely: there are expressions of the self which are not mental. Thus what is needed is a differentia, a characteristic distinguishing mind from all the other expressions of the self. (shrink)