Cover

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pp. C-C

Title Page, Series Information, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

Abbreviations Used in the Text

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pp. xi-xii

Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-20

This study considers the political significance of something called common sense philosophy. Two likely reactions to the proposed topic present them-selves: Those generally skeptical about the value of philosophy for political life—those who tend to see philosophy as either vicious or useless—might say, “It’s about time! Finally, a common sense philosophy of politics!” Those of a ...

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2. Common Sense and the Common Sense Tradition

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pp. 21-63

The philosophical and political import of common sense is strikingly suggested in a passage from Eric Voegelin’s Autobiographical Reflections. The passage has the additional merit of highlighting the surprising philosophic richness of American culture and outlook. As a young German scholar studying in America at Columbia University around 1922, Voegelin found himself ...

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3. Witherspoon's "Plain Common Sense"

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pp. 64-100

The Western common sense tradition connects to American thought most directly in the form of Scottish Common Sense, and John Witherspoon was the key figure in making that philosophy a major force in American academia and in the minds of the many young men he sent out from Princeton to lead the country.1 More to the point for our purposes, Witherspoon constitutes a model— ...

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4. McCosh's Scientific Intuitionism

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pp. 101-132

The features of American moral consciousness that Witherspoon represented continued essentially unchanged to James McCosh’s presidency at Princeton, approximately the time that outlook transitioned to something new (though not entirely new). American religious understanding had not suddenly transmogrified since Tocqueville marveled at American religiosity in the 1830s. The ...

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5. The Common Sense Basis of James's Pragmatic Radical Empiricism

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pp. 133-174

William James’s thought represents a remarkable new development in Western common sense philosophy. Jamesian Pragmatism is, rightly considered, a continuation of that tradition. As James himself put it in the subtitle to Pragmatism, it is really but “a new name for some old ways of thinking.” But some elements of the old way had never been adequately assimilated into the tradition’s ...

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6. The Common Sense Basis of James's Moral and Social Theory

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pp. 175-208

James did not express his moral understanding in terms of natural right, but it can accurately be conceived in that vein. His indications of an “eternal moral order” and objective moral relations, his prioritization of human value in order of spiritual, social, and physical, and his treatment of justice and character all suggest a right determined by nature, albeit a nature more ...

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 209-224

How compatible were Scottish Common Sense and James’s philosophy? How compatible were the Scottish realist and the Jamesian moral understandings? What is their relevance for us? What can we conclude from this study as a whole about the personal and social meanings of common sense in general, and the role of common sense in the unfolding of American order in par-...

Notes

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pp. 225-252

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 253-264

Index

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pp. 265-283

Back Cover

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pp. BC-BC