James and Dewey on Belief and Experience
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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We especially want to thank Kerry Callahan for expressing interest in this project and providing encouragement as it made its way through the review and approval process. We could not have asked for a more attentive editor. We also want to express our gratitude to Joan Blyth, who...
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William James and John Dewey rank among the most influential public intellectuals in the history of the United States. They are best known for their advocacy of pragmatism, America’s unique contribution to world philosophy. Pragmatism, as they conceived of it, emphasizes a practical...
Works Included in This Text
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1. Reflex Action and Theism (1881)
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I will therefore only say this: that the latest breeze from the physiological horizon need not necessarily be the most important one. Of the immense amount of work which the laboratories of Europe and America, and one may add of Asia and Australia, are producing every year, much is destined to...
2. The Psychology of Belief (1889)
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There are, as we know, two ways of studying every psychic state. First, the way of analysis: What does it consist in? What is its inner nature? Of what sort of mind-stuff is it composed? Second, the way of history: What are its conditions of production, and its connection with other...
3. Is Life Worth Living? (1895)
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With many men the question of life’s worth is answered by a temperamental optimism which makes them incapable of believing anything seriously evil can exist. Our dear old Walt Whitman’s works are the standing textbook of this kind of optimism. The mere joy of living is so immense...
4. The Will to Believe (1896)
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Let us give the name of hypothesis to anything that may be proposed to our belief; and just as the electricians speak of live and dead wires, let us speak of any hypothesis as either live or dead. A live hypothesis is one which appeals as a real possibility to him to whom it is proposed. If I ask you...
5. From The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)
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Most books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to you now...
6. What Pragmatism Means (1907)
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Some years ago, being with a camping party in the mountains, I returned from a solitary ramble to find every one engaged in a ferocious metaphysical dispute. The corpus of the dispute was a squirrel—a live squirrel supposed to be clinging to one side of a tree-trunk; while over against...
7. A World of Pure Experience (1904)
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I give the name of “radical empiricism” to my Weltanschauung. Empiricism is known as the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends to emphasize universals and to make wholes prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, lays the explanatory stress...
8. From A Pluralistic Universe (1919)
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What is true here of successive states must also be true of simultaneous characters. They also overlap each other with their being. My present field of consciousness is a center surrounded by a fringe that shades insensibly into a subconscious more. I use three separate terms here to describe this...
9. William James (1910) by John Dewey
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Everyone, I suppose, would cite his sense of reality as Mr. James’s foremost trait. I would not say that philosophers as a class are lacking in this trait, but the business of philosophy is to generalize and to systemize; and philosophers are under a greater temptation than others to follow the bent of their...
10. The Chicago School (1904) by William James
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Like Spencer’s philosophy, Dewey’s is an evolutionism; but unlike Spencer, Dewey and his disciples have so far (with the exception of Dewey’s admirable writings on ethics) confined themselves to establishing certain general principles without applying them to details. Unlike Spencer, again...
11. The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy (1909)
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No wonder then that the publication of Darwin’s book, a half-century ago, precipitated a crisis. The true nature of the controversy is easily concealed from us, however, by the theological clamor that attended it. The vivid and popular features of the anti-Darwinian row tended to leave the...
12. The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism (1909)
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Immediate empiricism postulates that things—anything, everything, in the ordinary or non-technical use of the term “thing”—are what they are experienced as. Hence, if one wishes to describe anything truly, his task is to tell what it is experienced as being. If it is a horse that is to be...
13. The Copernican Revolution (1929)
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That the consequence was Ptolemaic rather than Copernican is not to be wondered at. In fact, the alleged revolution of Kant consisted in making explicit what was implicit in the classic tradition. In words, the latter had asserted that knowledge is determined by the objective constitution...
14. What I Believe (1930)
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Such a faith has in it all the elements of a philosophy. For it implies that the course and material of experience give support and stay to life, and that its possibilities provide all the ends and ideals that are to regulate conduct. When these implications are made explicit, there emerges a definite...
15. From A Common Faith (1934)
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The opposed group consists of those who think the advance of culture and science has completely discredited the supernatural and with it all religions that were allied with belief in it. But they go beyond this point. The extremists in this group believe that with elimination of the supernatural...
16. From Experience and Nature (1929)
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Greek thinkers nevertheless disparaged experience in comparison with something called reason and science. The ground for depreciation was not that usually assigned in modern philosophy; it was not that experience is “subjective.” On the contrary, experience was considered to be...
17. From Art as Experience (1934)
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When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which aesthetic theory deals. Art is remitted to a separate realm, where it is cut off from that association...
Suggestions for Further Reading
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2004