About the Author
Fredson Bowers is Linden Kent Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia.
Ignas K. Skrupskelis is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
Frederick Burkhardt, formerly a professor of philosophy and then a college president, is President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Richard J. Bernstein
A Pluralistic Universe
A Note on the Editorial Method
The Text of A Pluralistic Universe
1. The History
2. The Documents
3. The Editorial Problem
Alterations in the Manuscripts
Appendix: James's Reply to W.P. Montague
Key to the Pagination of editions
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Williams James gave these lectures when aged around 66, just two years before he died. They are a remarkably franked and earnest account of what he believed and how he saw philosophical enquiry. The argument is intriguing, and well-worth reading particularly since it is reasonably short. What other author would present his own work as a paralogism?James sees individual humans as being the component cells of a greater yet still finite unified living entity. This whole explains and justifies its parts rather than vice versa. Because he is not a reductionist, he is content for the capabilities of this divine whole not to be emergent properties. Thus this whole has a greater mind limited in space and time rather than something grander and less intimate. Indeed this divine whole is one of many in a pluralistic community possessing greater minds, extending throughout the cosmos.He explained this viewpoint in a series of eight lectures. He notes that traditional philosophy is groundless and it is tied up in self-imposed knots. Philosophers use personal preference to deliver supposed foundations from analogues of experiential features of the universe. Thus philosophical terms are normally ill defined, abstruse and easily misinterpreted. Philosophers often are uncomfortable with mathematics and nearly always show an aversion to the indeterminate, indefinite or infinite. William James argues in favour of arguments using a revealed empiricism. He asserts that our subjective sometimes-delusional experiences are incommensurate with logic. Therefore, in such circumstances, he suggests we ought to suspend the use of logic. Furthermore he claims that all concepts and definitions are artificial suppositions and therefore can safely be ignored whenever they contradict either subjective experience or deeply felt belief. Thus most scientific knowledge is deemed superficial and misleading. Hence he justifies the inconsistently fickle use of how or when logic is applied by philosophers. Logic is a support act that is entertained only when it gives pleasing results. Life itself is said to violate logic. How can we learn and grow old, and yet still be the same person? Indeed the everyday concepts of rational argument are said to introduce unnecessary barriers. They subdivide reality into concepts perhaps only appropriate to a snapshot in time not the flow of time. They leave the holistic wood obscured by the individual trees.