This 2002 book explores Wittgenstein's long engagement with the work of the pragmatist William James. In contrast to previous discussions Russell Goodman argues that James exerted a distinctive and pervasive positive influence on Wittgenstein's thought. For example, the book shows that the two philosophers share commitments to anti-foundationalism, to the description of the concrete details of human experience, to the priority of practice over intellect, and to the importance of religion in understanding human life. Considering in detail what Wittgenstein learnt (...) from his reading of Principles of Psychology and Varieties of Religious Experience the author provides considerable evidence for Wittgenstein's claim that he is saying 'something that sounds like pragmatism'. This provocative account of the convergence in the thinking of two major philosophers usually considered as members of discrete traditions will be eagerly sought by students of Wittgenstein, William James, pragmatism and the history of twentieth-century philosophy. (shrink)
Russell Goodman tells the story of the development of philosophy in America from the mid-18th century to the late 19th century. The key figures in this story, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, the writers of The Federalist, and the romantics Emerson and Thoreau, were not professors but men of the world, whose deep formative influence on American thought brought philosophy together with religion, politics, and literature.
Professional philosophers have tended either to shrug off American philosophy as negligible or derivative or to date American philosophy from the work of twentieth century analytical positivists such as Quine. Russell Goodman expands on the revisionist position developed by Stanley Cavell, that the most interesting strain of American thought proceeds not from Puritan theology or from empirical science but from a peculiarly American kind of Romanticism. This insight leads Goodman, through Cavell, back to Emerson and Thoreau and thence to William (...) James and John Dewey, as they assimilated to American circumstances and intellectual habits the currents of European thought from Kant to Wittgenstein. (shrink)
We are engineers, and our view of consciousness is shaped by an engineering ambition: we would like to build a conscious machine. We begin by acknowledging that we may be a little disadvantaged, in that consciousness studies do not form part of the engineering curriculum, and so we may be starting from a position of considerable ignorance as regards the study of consciousness itself. In practice, however, this may not set us back very far; almost a decade ago, Crick wrote: (...) 'Everyone has a rough idea of what is meant by consciousness. It is better to avoid a precise definition of consciousness because of the dangers of premature definition. Until the problem is understood much better, any attempt at a formal definition is likely to be either misleading or overly restrictive, or both'. This seems to be as true now as it was then, although the identification of different aspects of consciousness by Block has certainly brought a degree of clarification. On the other hand, there is little doubt that consciousness does seem to be something to do with the operation of a sophisticated control system, and we can claim more familiarity with control systems than can most philosophers, so perhaps we can make up some ground there. (shrink)
Russell Goodman examines the curious reemergence of pragmatism in a field dominated in the past decades by phenomenology, logic, positivism, and deconstruction. With contributions from major contemporary and classical thinkers such as Cornel West, Richard Rorty, Nancy Fraser, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Ralph Waldo Emerson Russell has gathered an impressive chorus of philosophical voices that reexamine the origins and complexities of neo-pragmatism. The contributors discuss the relationship between pragmatism and literary theory, phenomenology, existentialism, and the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. (...) They question the meaning of pragmatics, what it is to be practical, and ask provocative questions such as: what is reading? and whether or not democracy is a precondition for the functioning of intelligence. This work places this reemergent and interesting neo-development in its proper context and will provide readers with a strong sense of the movement's foundations, history, and subtlities. (shrink)
Stanley Cavell has been a brilliant, idiosyncratic, and controversial presence in American philosophy, literary criticism, and cultural studies for years. Even as he continues to produce new writing of a high standard -- an example of which is included in this collection -- his work has elicited responses from a new generation of writers in Europe and America. This collection showcases this new work, while illustrating the variety of Cavell's interests: in the "ordinary language" philosophy of Wittgenstein and Austin, in (...) film criticism and theory, in literature, psychoanalysis, and the American transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The collection also reprints Richard Rorty's early review of Cavell's magnum opus, The Claim of Reason (1979), and it concludes with Cavell's substantial set of responses to the essays, a highlight of which is his engagement with Rorty. (shrink)
Three claims wittgenstein makes in the tractatus are explicated via schopenhauer's idealism: 1) ethical reward and punishment lie in the action itself, 2) the good or bad exercise of the will alter the world's limits, So that it waxes or wanes, 3) eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Schopenhauer's theory fills out some of wittgenstein's statements. For example, The happy man's world waxes to the degree that he frees himself from the false perspective of the "principium (...) individuationis". However, The link between schopenhauer's metaphysics and his ethics is tighter than the analogous link in wittgenstein. (shrink)
Presenting key texts in and about pragmatism, this collection of essays explores pragmatism's origins, applications, and weaknesses, as well as its remarkable versatility as an approach not only to issues of truth and knowledge, but to ethics and social philosophy, literature, law, aesthetics, religion, and education. Exploring a wide range of work on topics spanning from the birth of pragmatism in nineteenth century America, to its contemporary revival as an international and multi-disciplinary phenomenon, the collection: * is international in scope, (...) covering a wide range of sources, including key American pragmatists such as Nelson Goodman and Morton White * includes key articles on the contemporary neopragmatism revival * considers pragmatism's influences across disciplines * presents newly translated papers. With an impressive breadth and range of content, the set also includes a both a general introduction and introductions to each volume by the editor, a chronological table of contents, and a full index to provide a valuable and unique research resource for student and scholar alike. (shrink)
In this paper I reconsider James and Wittgenstein, not in the quest for what Wittgenstein might have learned from James, or for an answer to the question whether Wittgenstein was a pragmatist, but in an effort to see what these and other related but quite different thinkers can help us to see about animals, including ourselves. I follow Cora Diamond’s lead in discussing a late paper by Vicki Hearne entitled “A Taxonomy of Knowing: Animals Captive, Free-Ranging, and at Liberty”, which (...) draws on Wittgenstein and offers some insights that accord with pragmatist accounts of knowledge. (shrink)
In this admirable book, the most comprehensive ever written on Dewey, Robert Westbrook provides detailed and sympathetic accounts of Dewey's major works and many minor ones. The book's greatest value, however, lies in Westbrook's account of Dewey's political writing and activity. Drawing on unpublished letters and research on the political and historical contexts within which Dewey worked, Westbrook tells a story, in a pleasingly compelling style, that has been largely hidden from view.
I've been teaching Wittgenstein's On Certainty lately, and coming again to the question of Wittgenstein's relation to pragmatism.1 This is of course a question Wittgenstein raises himself when he writes in the middle of that work: 'So I am trying to say something that sounds like pragmatism'.2 He adds to this sentence the claim that 'Here I am being thwarted by a kind of Weltanschauung', but in the remarks to follow I want to focus not on Wittgenstein's differences from or (...) antipathy to pragmatism, nor on the world view that he felt thwarted him, but on those elements of his philosophy that sound like pragmatism-as he says. I will work primarily from On Certainty but also from the Philosophical Investigations, which intersects with that late, unfinished work at various places, and which also, at times, sounds like pragmatism. (shrink)
Recent conversations with friends and students about Emerson's essay on friendship lead me to suspect that at least some of you will find Emerson's views so strange or radical as not to be about friendship at all. Others will be struck by his anticipations of Nietzsche, whose name I in-troduce here because like Nietzsche, who read him carefully, Emerson is a genealogist and refash-ioner of morals. When Emerson criticizes our normal friendships by writing that we mostly "descend to meet," he (...) is recording the possibility, indeed with the word "mostly," the actuality, of something better than what normally passes for friendship. If Emerson finds our friendships disappointing, that is because he thinks that friendship is a high, demanding virtue. In its best actualizations, it carries "the world for me," as he puts it, "to new and noble depths, and enlarge[s] the meaning of all my thoughts." It has the capacity to break down the barriers between people, canceling "the thick walls of individual character, relation, age, sex, circumstance." Friendship is thus a great unifier, a servant of what Emerson calls the "Over-Soul" or "Unity" . But, as Emerson says in his essay on "Montaigne: or the Skeptic," "there are doubts." These doubts about friendships are my main subject in the following essay. (shrink)
This paper considers some sources, mostly within the pragmatist tradition, for the full-fledged pragmatism that Putnam set out in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in The Many Faces of Realism and Realism with a Human Face. In considering Putnam's views about metaphysics, I pay particular attention to his pluralism , which I trace back through Nelson Goodman to William James. In considering Putnam's idea that facts and values are intertwined, I discuss both John Dewey and that neglected middle-generation pragmatist, C. (...) I. Lewis. I briefly consider James's essay "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," where metaphysical pluralism and a pluralistic ethics of toleration come together, and I conclude with some suggestions about the relation of Putnam's pragmatism to the very different American philosophy developed by his Harvard colleague Stanley Cavell. (shrink)
At the heart of Alston's project is the notion of epistemic circularity. An argument is circular in the most direct way if it uses as a premise a statement it sets out to prove, but it is epistemically circular if it requires what it sets out to prove as justification for one of its premises. So it is with most of the arguments Alston considers here. For example, "track record" arguments try to show that sense perception is reliable by citing (...) our successful use of it in prediction and control. But our belief that we do predict and control things is itself based on sense perception. (shrink)