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Philosophy > Pragmatism

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100 Years of Pragmatism Cover

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100 Years of Pragmatism

William James's Revolutionary Philosophy

Edited by John J. Stuhr

William James claimed that his Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking would prove triumphant and epoch-making. Today, after more than 100 years, how is pragmatism to be understood? What has been its cultural and philosophical impact? Is it a crucial resource for current problems and for life and thought in the future? John J. Stuhr and the distinguished contributors to this multidisciplinary volume address these questions, situating them in personal, philosophical, political, American, and global contexts. Engaging James in original ways, these 11 essays probe and extend the significance of pragmatism as they focus on four major, overlapping themes: pragmatism and American culture; pragmatism as a method of thinking and settling disagreements; pragmatism as theory of truth; and pragmatism as a mood, attitude, or temperament.

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Active Life, The

Miller's Metaphysics of Democracy

The ancient antagonism between the active and the contemplative lives is taken up in this innovative and wide-ranging examination of John William Miller’s effort to forge a metaphysics of democracy. The Active Life sheds new light on Miller’s actualist philosophy—its scope, its systematic character, and its dialectical form. Michael J. McGandy persuasively sets Miller’s actualism in the context of Hannah Arendt’s understanding of the active life and skillfully presents actualism as a response to Whitman’s challenge to craft a democratic form of metaphysics. McGandy concludes that Miller reveals how the philosophical and the political are inextricably connected, how there is no active life without the contemplative life, and that the contemplative life is founded in the active life.

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The American Evasion of Philosophy

A Genealogy of Pragmatism

Cornel West

Taking Emerson as his starting point, Cornel West’s basic task in this ambitious enterprise is to chart the emergence, development, decline, and recent resurgence of American pragmatism. John Dewey is the central figure in West’s pantheon of pragmatists, but he treats as well such varied mid-century representatives of the tradition as Sidney Hook, C. Wright Mills, W. E. B. Du Bois, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lionel Trilling. West’s "genealogy" is, ultimately, a very personal work, for it is imbued throughout with the author’s conviction that a thorough reexamination of American pragmatism may help inspire and instruct contemporary efforts to remake and reform American society and culture.

"West . . . may well be the pre-eminent African American intellectual of our generation."—The Nation

"The American Evasion of Philosophy is a highly intelligent and provocative book. Cornel West gives us illuminating readings of the political thought of Emerson and James; provides a penetrating critical assessment of Dewey, his central figure; and offers a brilliant interpretation—appreciative yet far from uncritical—of the contemporary philosopher and neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty. . . . What shines through, throughout the work, is West's firm commitment to a radical vision of a philosophic discourse as inextricably linked to cultural criticism and political engagement."—Paul S. Boyer, professor emeritus of history, University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Wisconsin Project on American Writers

Frank Lentricchia, General Editor


Animal Pragmatism Cover

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Animal Pragmatism

Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships

Erin McKenna and Andrew Light, eds.

What does American pragmatism contribute to contemporary debates about human-animal relationships? Does it acknowledge our connections to all living things? Does it bring us closer to an ethical treatment of all animals? What about hunting, vegetarianism, animal experimentation, and the welfare of farm animals? While questions about human relations with animals have been with us for millennia, there has been a marked rise in public awareness about animal issues -- even McDonald's advertises that they use humanely treated animals as food sources. In Animal Pragmatism, 12 lively and provocative essays address concerns at the intersection of pragmatist philosophy and animal welfare. Topics cover a broad range of issues, including moral consideration of animals, the ethics of animal experimentation, institutional animal care, environmental protection of animal habitat, farm animal welfare, animal communication, and animal morals. Readers who interact with animals, whether as pets or on a plate, will find a robust and fascinating exploration of human-nonhuman relationships.

Contributors are James M. Albrecht, Douglas R. Anderson, Steven Fesmire, Glenn Kuehn, Todd Lekan, Andrew Light, John J. McDermott, Erin McKenna, Phillip McReynolds, Ben Minteer, Matthew Pamental, Paul Thompson, and Jennifer Welchman.

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Becoming John Dewey

Dilemmas of a Philosopher and Naturalist

Thomas C. Dalton

As one of America's "public intellectuals," John Dewey was engaged in a lifelong struggle to understand the human mind and the nature of human inquiry. According to Thomas C. Dalton, the successful pursuit of this mission demanded that Dewey become more than just a philosopher; it compelled him to become thoroughly familiar with the theories and methods of physics, psychology, and neurosciences, as well as become engaged in educational and social reform. Tapping archival sources and Dewey's extensive correspondence, Dalton reveals that Dewey had close personal and intellectual ties to scientists and scholars who helped form the mature expression of his thought. Dewey's relationships with F. M. Alexander, Henri Matisse, Niels Bohr, Myrtle McGraw, and Lawrence K. Frank, among others, show how Dewey dispersed pragmatism throughout American thought and culture.

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C. I. Lewis in Focus

The Pulse of Pragmatism

Sandra B. Rosenthal

C. I. Lewis (1883--1964) was one of the most important thinkers of his generation. In this book, Sandra B. Rosenthal explores Lewis's philosophical vision, and links his thought to the traditions of classical American pragmatism. Tracing Lewis's influences, she explains the central concepts informing his thinking and how he developed a unique and practical vision of the human experience. She shows how Lewis contributed to the enrichment and expansion of pragmatism, opening new paths of constructive dialogue with other traditions. This book will become a standard reference for readers who want to know more about one of American philosophy's most distinguished minds.

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Confucian Democracy

A Deweyan Reconstruction

Using both Confucian texts and the work of American pragmatist John Dewey, this book offers a distinctly Confucian model of democracy. Through a detailed study of relevant concepts and theories in Confucianism and John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy, this book illustrates the possibility of Confucian democracy and offers an alternative to Western liberal models. Sor-hoon Tan synthesizes the two philosophies through a comparative examination of individuals and community, democratic ideals of equality and freedom, and the nature of ethical and political order. By constructing a model of Confucian democracy that combines the strengths of both Confucianism and Deweyan pragmatism, this book explores how a premodern tradition could be put in dialogue with contemporary political and philosophical theories.

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Conversations on Peirce:Reals and Ideals

Reals and Ideals

Douglas Anderson

The essays in this book have grown out of conversations between the authors and their colleagues and students over the last decade and a half. Their germinal question concerned the ways in which Charles Sanders Peirce was and was not both an idealist and a realist. The dialogue began as an exploration of Peirce's explicit uses of these ideas and then turned to consider the way in which answers to the initial question shed light on other dimensions of Peirce's architectonic.The essays explore the nature of semiotic interpretation, perception, and inquiry. Moreover, considering the roles of idealism and realism in Peirce's thought led to considerations of Peirce's place in the historical development of pragmatism. The authors find his realism turning sharply against the nominalistic conceptions of science endorsed both explicitly and implicitly by his nonpragmatist contemporaries. And they find his version of pragmatism holding a middle ground between the thought of John Dewey and Josiah Royce. The essays aims to invite others to consider the import of these central themes of Peircean thought.

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Democracy and Rhetoric

John Dewey on the Arts of Becoming

Nathan Crick

In Democracy and Rhetoric, Nathan Crick articulates from John Dewey's body of work a philosophy of rhetoric that reveals the necessity for bringing forth a democratic life infused with the spirit of ethics, a method of inquiry, and a sense of beauty. Crick relies on rhetorical theory as well interdisciplinary insights from philosophy, history, sociology, aesthetics, and political science as he demonstrates that significant engagement with issues of rhetoric and communication are central to Dewey's political philosophy. In his rhetorical reading of Dewey, Crick examines the sophistical underpinnings of Dewey's philosophy and finds it much informed by notions of radical individuality, aesthetic experience, creative intelligence, and persuasive advocacy as essential to the formation of communities of judgment. Crick illustrates that for Dewey rhetoric is an art situated within a complex and challenging social and natural environment, wielding influence and authority for those well versed in its methods and capable of experimenting with its practice. From this standpoint the unique and necessary function of rhetoric in a democracy is to advance minority views in such a way that they might have the opportunity to transform overarching public opinion through persuasion in an egalitarian public arena. The truest power of rhetoric in a democracy then is the liberty for one to influence the many through free, full, and fluid communication. Ultimately Crick argues that Dewey's sophistical rhetorical values and techniques form a naturalistic "ontology of becoming" in which discourse is valued for its capacity to guide a self, a public, and a world in flux toward some improved incarnation. Appreciation of this ontology of becoming—of democracy as a communication-driven work in progress—gives greater social breadth and historical scope to Dewey's philosophy while solidifying his lasting contributions to rhetoric in an active and democratic public sphere.

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The Drama of Possibility

Experience as Philosophy of Culture

John McDermott

This book traces the trajectory of John J. McDermott's philosophical career through a selection of his essays. Many were originally occasional pieces and address specific issues in American thought and culture. Together they constitute a mosaic of McDermott's philosophy, showing its roots in an American conception of experience. Though he draws heavily on the thought of William James and the pragmatists, McDermott has his own unique perspective on philosophy and American life. He presents this to the reader in exquisitely crafted prose. Drawing inspiration from American history, from existentialist themes, and from personal experiences, he offers a dramatic consideration of our culture's failures and successes.McDermott crosses disciplinary boundaries to draw on whatever works to help make sense of theissues with which he is dealing-issues rooted in medical practice, political events, pedagogical habits, and the worlds of the arts. His work thus resists simple categorization. It is precisely this that makes his vibrant prose appealing to so many both inside and outside the world of American philosophy.

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