Philosophical Essays in Pragmatic Naturalism

Overview

Two dominant schools have emerged in twentieth-century American philosophy: scientific naturalism and pragmatism. In this vibrant collection of hard-to-find essays, articles and contributions to books, internationally-known philosopher, author and lecturer Paul Kurtz offers his own special blend of these influential theories. With skill and clarity, Philosophical Essays in Pragmatic Naturalism captures naturalism's dedication to scientific method and critical intelligence (which are so much a part of ordinary ...

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Overview

Two dominant schools have emerged in twentieth-century American philosophy: scientific naturalism and pragmatism. In this vibrant collection of hard-to-find essays, articles and contributions to books, internationally-known philosopher, author and lecturer Paul Kurtz offers his own special blend of these influential theories. With skill and clarity, Philosophical Essays in Pragmatic Naturalism captures naturalism's dedication to scientific method and critical intelligence (which are so much a part of ordinary life), and pragmatism's application of rational inquiry to the problems each of us face as individuals and as social beings.

Part One focuses on "empirical metaphysics," a theory of nature grounded in the natural sciences and a theory of human nature drawn from behavioral science.

Part Two defends a modified naturalistic ethic: ethical problems can be resolved by the thoughtful employment of empirical methods and value judgments that have been tested in the trenches of human conduct and proven themselves to have beneficial consequences. Rejecting subjectivitism and absolutism, Kurtz argues for a form of objective relativism in which values are shaped and winnowed in the context of everyday experiences.

Part Three contrasts pragmatic naturalism with two of its keenest critics, phenomenology and existentialistm, both of which enjoyed considerable popularity in mid-century.

Philosophical Essays in Pragmatic Naturalism demonstrates Kurtz's unwaivering commitment to free inquiry, his appreciation of pluralism and diversity, and his fervent belief that the scientific method and critical intelligence that gave birth to pragmatic naturalism provide the foundations for a cosmic outlook and an authentic ethical humanism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These essays, reprinted from scholarly journals, offer seminal ideas on bridging the rift between holism (belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) and reductionism, on Kierkegaard, rule-making, ethics, phenomenology, and behaviorism in the applied and social sciences. Kurtz, professor of philosophy at the State University of New York, sets forth his brand of ``pragmatic naturalism,'' a secular outlook rooted in the scientific method. He has no use for the quests of existentialists or Zen Buddhists, seems wary of Freud, and would grant metaphysicians limited tasks. Although, as the author states, his secular humanism offers a cosmic outlook on the universe and our place in it, for the lay reader he fails to grant sufficient depth to the nature of that cosmic outlook. When Kurtz ventures into matters of values, personal needs or ultimates, he is tepid or tentative (``There seems to be a human necessity both to give and receive love''). (Apr.)
Library Journal
Collected here are 14 essays published over a 35-year period; most, however, date from the 1950s and 1960s, and only one is fairly recent (1985). Throughout, the author is concerned with the philosophical implications of the natural scientific picture of the world, and he gives numerous arguments to show how other world views are fallacious. Pragmatic naturalism holds that all events and processes can be explained by reference to natural causes and events. It is materialistic, behavioristic, empirical, and critical of theism, supernaturalism, dualism, and non-naturalistic ethics. Contemporary philosophers will find the approach--if not the subject matter--somewhat dated, but informed laypersons would find most of the topics here of interest.-- Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.
Booknews
Kurtz (philosophy, SUNY at Buffalo; editor, Free inquiry; and president, Prometheus Books) collects his essays, articles, and contributions to books written over the past thirty-five years. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879755928
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/1990
  • Pages: 265
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and lectured at universities worldwide.

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