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Pragmatic Naturalism

An Introduction

S. Morris Eames

Publication Year: 1977

It is said that America came of age in­tellectually with the appearance of the pragmatic movement in philosophy. Pragmatic Naturalism presents a selec­tive and interpretative overview of this philosophy as developed in the writings of its intellectual founders and chief exponents—Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey. Mr. Eames groups the leading ideas of these pragmatic natu­ralists around the general fields of “Na­ture and Human Life,” “Knowledge,” “Value,” and “Education,” treating the primary concerns and special emphasis of each philosopher to these issues.


Philosophy students, teachers of phi­losophy, and general readers will find this book a comprehensive overview of American philosophy.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-x

This work is intended to be a guide to the leading ideas of a movement in philosophy which has been called by the various names of "pragmatism," "instrumentalism," "experimentalism," "empirical naturalism." For reasons ...

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pp. xi-xxvii

It is often said that America came of age intellectually with the appearance of the pragmatic movement in philosophy. This philosophy originated in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writings of Charles Sanders Peirce...

Part 1: Nature and Human Life

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1. The Influence of Darwin

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pp. 3-8

Charles Darwin's theory of the evolution of natural species had a profound influence upon the pragmatic naturalists. They are concerned with the implications of evolutionary theory for a general view of nature and, of human life, for a new theory of knowledge, and for ...

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2. Accommodation, Adaptation, Adjustment

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pp. 9-17

William James sees the problem of human life in a world of changing forms and species to be one of "adjust or die." For the pragmatic naturalists, adjustment is composed of two processes, radically different in the attitudes and responses they involve. On the one hand, there are many ...

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3. Emergence and Non-reductionism

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pp. 17-24

Darwinian revolution brought with it the concept of emergence. New forms or species emerge out of oldĀ·ones. What was Eohippus has become horse, and this species is undergoing change and may pass away or become something very different. Where nature is ongoing, that is, where new ...

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4. The Fullness of Experience

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pp. 24-33

Much of traditional philosophizing has a history of postulating the separation of what is called "experience" from what is called "nature"j experience is taken to be something subjective, and nature is taken to be something ...

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5. Immediacy, Transaction, and Continuity

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pp. 33-40

For the pragmatic naturalists there are leading ideas or categories which have important functions in the analysis, description, and understanding of experience. 14 These categories have been debated often, and what follows is an ...

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6. A Pluralistic Universe

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pp. 40-45

most prevailing philosophies on the continent of Europe and in Great Britain was known as the philosophy of the Absolute. There are various versions of this way of looking at nature and life, and William James appears to have taken a critical view of all of them. One version of the philosophic ...

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7. Human Life in Nature

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pp. 45-62

Pragmatic naturalists conceive of humans as a part of nature. Although they share many organic processes with other animals in their life in nature, humans emerge above the animals in certain forms and functions. For instance, humans can construct symbols and languages, they can ...

Part 2: Knowledge

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8. The Importance of Method

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pp. 66-76

Pragmatic naturalists use the term experience in the fullest and most comprehensive sense. The word denotes feelings, transactions, and continuities; it refers to physical bodies and ideas and relations; it refers to sensations, concepts, desires, and emotions; it refers to actualities ...

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9. Signs, Symbols, and Meanings

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pp. 77-87

Contemporary philosophy has shown a growing interest in the philosophy of language, in the role of signs, meanings, and symbols in human behavior. Much of the groundwork in theory and in terminology for the study of language was

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10. Antecedents and Consequences

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pp. 87-100

In 1878 Charles Peirce published an article entitled "How To Make Our Ideas Clear.//18 This essay has had a profound influence on the entire development of pragmatic naturalism. In the first part of this essay, Peirce criticizes the method of Descartes for the attainment of clear ideas, a ...

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11. Logical Theory

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pp. 100-113

The history of modern logic shows the many contributions of Peirce. Peirce was far ahead of others in his day, at least in America, and it is only recently that he has become recognized as an original thinker on this subject. When ...

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12. Theory of Truth

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pp. 113-127

.In their conceptions of nature and experience, pragmatic naturalists hold that reality is changing and that knowledge which is built upon this reality necessarily changes with it. The absolutist view of nature as monistic, complete, and closed was destroyed by the evolutionary idea, and the ...

Part 3: Value

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13. General Theory of Value

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pp. 131-142

Each of the founders of pragmatic naturalism made contributions to what are generally called the value fields, to ethics (moral philosophy), social philosophy, aesthetics, and religion. One of Dewey's most significant contributions to ...

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14. Moral Philosophy

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pp. 142-156

William James came upon the philosophic scene during a period when the arguments over determinism and freedom seemed to have reached an impasse, and some philosophers claimed that nothing more could be said upon the subject. ...

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15. Social Philosophy

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pp. 157-170

Social philosophy is a value study because various forms and functions of societal life are prized or rejected, defended or attacked. The history of human life consists of numerous wars defending or attacking social and political ...

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16. Philosophy of Art

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pp. 170-181

Peirce says that he worked "with intensity for many hours a day every day for long years" to train himself to the study of feelings.47 On one level of experience Peirce holds that feelings are primary, and he designates these as belonging, in his terminology, to the category of Firstness. When ...

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17. Religion and the Religious

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pp. 181-192

The pragmatic naturalists inherited an intellectual world in which traditional supernaturalism was one of the oldest and most widely held interpretations of human experience. Some thinkers like Thomas Paine had advocated a ...

Part 4: Education

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18. Societies and Their Schools

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pp. 196-206

Educational theories and practices have been of vital interest to the pragmatic naturalists. Peirce made some observations about education, but these are made primarily from the point of view of an inquirer and not as one directly ...

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19. Ideals and Goals of Education

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pp. 207-218

Human beings are goal-seeking in many of their activitiesj the ability to construct ends-in-view and to move toward the accomplishment of some of these goals is a distinguishing mark of the species. The pursuit and achievement of goals gives meaning and purpose to living. Behavior that ...

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20. The Educative Process

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pp. 219-232

Theories of learning which Peirce and James initiated, and which Mead and Dewey expanded, led to one of the most comprehensive and influential philosophies of the educative process in recent history. Human educational ...


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pp. 234-246


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pp. 248-253

Back Cover

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p. 283-283

E-ISBN-13: 9780809382736
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809308033

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 1977