Pragmatism / Edition 1by William James
Pub. Date: 12/28/1991
Publisher: Prometheus Books
James attacks the transcendental, rationalist tradition in philosophy and tries to clear the ground for the doctrine he called radical empiricism. See more details below
James attacks the transcendental, rationalist tradition in philosophy and tries to clear the ground for the doctrine he called radical empiricism.
Table of ContentsLECTURE I The Present Dilemma in Philosophy
Everyone has a philosophy.
Temperament is a factor in all philosophizing.
Rationalists and empiricists.
The tender-minded and the tough-minded.
Most men wish both facts and religion.
Empiricism gives facts without religion.
Rationalism gives religion without facts.
The layman's dilemma.
The unreality in rationalistic systems.
"Leibnitz on the damned, as an example."
M.I. Swift on the optimism of idealists.
Pragmatism as a mediating system.
"Reply: philosophies have characters like men, and are liable to as summary judgments."
Spencer as an example.
LECTURE II What Pragmatism Means
Pragmatism as a method.
History of the method.
Its character and affinities.
How it contrasts with rationalism and intellectualism.
A 'corridor theory.'
"Pragmatism as a theory of truth, equivalent to 'humanism.'"
"Earlier views of mathematical, logical, and natural truth."
More recent views.
Schiller's and Dewey's 'instrumental' view.
The formation of new beliefs.
Older truth always has to be kept account of.
Older truth arose similarly.
The 'humanistic' doctrine.
Rationalistic criticisms of it.
Pragmatism as mediator between empiricism and religion.
Barrenness of transcendental idealism.
How far the concept of Absolute must be called true.
The true is the good in the way of belief.
The clash of truths.
Pragmatism unstiffens discussion.
LECTURE III Some Metaphysical Problems Pragmatically Considered
The problem of substance.
Berkely's pragmatic treatment of material substance.
Locke's of personal identity.
The problem of materialism.
Rationalistic treatment of it.
"God' is no better than 'Matter' as a principle, unless he promise more."
Pragmatic comparison of the two principles.
The problem of design.
Design' per se is barren.
The question is what design.
The problem of 'free-will.'
Its relations to 'accountability.'
Free-will a cosmological theory.
The pragmatic issue at stake in all these problems is what do the alternatives promise.
LECTURE IV The One and Many
"Philosophy seeks not only unity, but totality."
Rationalistic feeling about unity.
"Pragmatically considered, the world is one in many ways."
One time and space.
One subject of discourse.
Its parts interact.
Its oneness and manyness are co-ordinate.
Question of one origin.
Value of pragmatic method.
Various types of union discussed.
Conclusions: We must oppose monistic dogmatism and follow empirical findings.
LECTURE V Pragmatism and Common Sense
How our knowledge grows.
Earlier ways of thinking remain.
Prehistoric ancestors discovered the common sense concepts.
List of them.
They came gradually into use.
Space and time.
Cause' and 'law.'
"Common sense one stage in mental evolution, due to geniuses."
"The 'critical' stages: 1) scientific and 2) philosophic, compared with common sense."
Impossible to say which is the more 'true.'
LECTURE VI Pragmatism's Conception of Truth
The polemic situation.
What does agreement with reality mean?
It means verifiability.
Verifiability means ability to guide us propserously through experience.
Completed verfications seldom needful.
"Consistency, with language, with previous truths."
"Truth is a good, like, health, wealth, etc."
It is expedient thinking.
Reply to them.
LECTURE VII Pragmatism and Humanism
The notion of Truth.
Schiller on 'Humanism.'
Three sorts of reality of which any new truth must take account.
To 'take account' is ambiguous.
Absolutely independent reality is hard to find.
The human contribution is ubiquitous and builds out the given.
Essence of pragmatism's contrast with rationalism.
Rationalism affirms a transempirical world.
Motives for this.
Tough-mindedness rejects them.
A genuine alternative.
LECTURE VIII Pragmatism and Religion
Utility of the Absolute.
Whitman's poem 'To You.'
Two ways of taking it.
My friend's letter.
Necessities versus possibilities.
Three views of the world's salvation.
Pragmatism is melioristic.
We may create reality.
Why should anything be?
Supposed choice before creation.
The healthy and the morbid reply.
The 'tender' and the 'tough' types of religion.
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My overall impression of the book was that it was worth a read. Personally I'm not a fan of those who glorify their own phylosophies only through contrast to others' works. Some parts were just regurgitating and some were plain obvious to read about.