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.
I should like to offer three criticisms of Professor Cobb’s challenging paper. The first is that he has failed to explain how divine efficient causation in the world is possible. The second is that he did not succeed in showing that such divine causality is actual. Finally, he fell short of demonstrating that it is necessary to introduce the idea of God in a philosophy that is to give an adequate description of the world.
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.
: The overwhelming commitment of philosophers is not to crossing arms over some technical problem but to the education of the young. This is not to deny the merit of attempting to make a contribution to current debates or to new assessments of historical figures. However, the ultimate value of such contributions lies in providing materials for teaching the skills and habits vitally important in our personal and social lives.
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.