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A History of Philosophy in America

A History of Philosophy in America



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Published by Clive Reedman
life related to a peculiar western polity and the US, by the nineteenth century. The study of the history of philosophy finally requires complex judgements of quality, which are both questionable and necessary.
life related to a peculiar western polity and the US, by the nineteenth century. The study of the history of philosophy finally requires complex judgements of quality, which are both questionable and necessary.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Clive Reedman on Apr 22, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 A History of Philosophy in America 1720-2000
Kuklick, Bruce
, Nichols Professor of History, University of PennsylvaniaAbstract: I have been selective in my emphases rather than encyclopaedic and exhaustive.In focusing on American philosophy, the book makes implicit claims about thought andlife related to a peculiar western polity and the US, by the nineteenth century. The studyof the history of philosophy finally requires complex judgements of quality, which areboth questionable and necessary. I have depicted student–teacher relations, conventionsof argument, and constellations of problems that endure over generations; and the culturalsetting and institutional connections that make up an enterprise of philosophy. I havedescribed traditions of thought and the intentions of thinkers within a social matrix. Thebook divides naturally into three substantive parts: the first covers the eighteenth andmost of the nineteenth centuries, and focuses on religious disputation; the second, from1865–1930 on pragmatism, an influential American contribution to western ideas; thethird, from 1910–2000, on professional philosophy in America, more secular andinstitutionalized. The thinkers covered include Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Bushnell, Charles Peirce, Josiah Royce, William James,John Dewey, C.I. Lewis, Wilfrid Sellars, Thomas Kuhn, Richard Rorty. The mostimportant theme of the book is the long circuitous march from a religious to a secularvision of the universe. A subsidiary theme concerns social and political philosophy, thecrux of Ch. 2.Introduction xPartISpeculative Thought in America, 1720–1868 11 Calvinism and Jonathan Edwards 52 Philosophy and Politics 263 Theological Dispute 38From Joseph Bellamy,
True Religion Delineated 
(1750) to NathanielWilliam Taylor,
 Moral Government of God 
(1858)4 Collegiate Philosophy 58
From John Witherspoon, Lectures on Moral Philosophy (1800) to NoahPorter, The Human Intellect (1868)5 Innovative Amateurs 75From James Marsh's Edition of Coleridge's
 Aids to Reflection
(1829) tothe
 Journal of Speculative Philosophy
(1867)PartIIThe Age of Pragmatism, 1859–1934 956 The Shape of Revolution 97The Impact in America of Charles Darwin's
Origin of Species
(1859), J.S. Mill's
 Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy
(1865), andGerman higher criticism7 The Consensus on Idealism, 1870–1900 1118 Pragmatism in Cambridge 129From Charles Peirce ‘On a New List of Categories’ (1867) to MorrisCohen (ed.),
Chance, Love, and Logic
Philosophical Essays by the LateCharles S. Peirce, the Founder of Pragmatism
(1923)end p.vii9 Pragmatism at Harvard 150From William James, ‘Spencer's Definition of Mind’ (1878) to Josiah Royce,
The Problem of Christianity
(1913)10 Instrumentalism in Chicago and New York 179From John Dewey (ed.),
Studies in Logical Theory
(1903) to John Dewey,
 ACommon Faith
(1934)PartIIIProfessional Philosophy, 1912–2000 19911 Professional Realism 201From
The New Realism
(1912) to Wilfrid Sellars, ‘Empiricism and thePhilosophy of Mind’ (1956)12 Europe's Impact on the United States 225From Rudolph Carnap,
 Logische Aufbau der Welt 
(1928) to HerbertMarcuse,
One Dimensional Man
(1964)13 Harvard and Oxford 243From Nelson Goodman, ‘The Problem of Counterfactual Conditionals’(1946) to W. V. O. Quine, ‘Empirically Equivalent Systems of theWorld’ (1975)14 The Tribulations of Professional Philosophy 259From Thomas Kuhn,
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
(1962) to
Richard Rorty,
Philosophy and Social Hope
(1999)Conclusion 282
 Methods, Sources, Notes
This book sketches the history of philosophy in America, but I have been aware of manyconceptual difficulties in the project. ‘Philosophy’ is a contested notion, and so is thenotion of its ‘American-ness’. Finally, such a history involves a package of ideas aboutthe quality of thought.By philosophy I mean more or less systematic writing about the point of our existence,and our ability to understand the world of which we are a part. These concerns arerecognizable in the questions that thinkers have asked in successive eras, and in theconnections between the questions of one era and another. For instance, in the eighteenthand nineteenth centuries, thinkers asked: what is the individual's relation to an inscrutabledeity? How can human autonomy be preserved, if the deity is omnipotent? After CharlesDarwin published his
Origin of Species
in 1859, philosophers asked: how can humanfreedom and our sense of the world's design be compatible with our status as biologicalentities? Early in the twentieth century academic thinkers wanted to know: if we arebiological organisms, enmeshed in a causal universe, how can we come to haveknowledge of this universe; how can mind escape the limits set by causal mechanism? Bythe second-half of the twentieth century, professional philosophers often assumed boththat we were of the natural world and that knowledge demanded a transcendence of thenatural. They then asked: how is knowledge possible? What are the alternatives to havingknowledge?For three centuries Americans have pondered these concerns by relying on theformulations of the people whose views are examined in this book. These people, forbetter or worse, have elaborated the frameworks used in grappling with issues of humandestiny. Just as intellectuals today worry about how to ‘get right with theory’, andconsider it important, so did Americans in the past worry. Just as intellectuals in thepresent believe they have the sort of detachment from ordinary concerns that gives totheir ideas a truth apart from any locality, so did the thinkers I treat in this book. But justas intellectuals today operate in a restrictive cultural context that must be considered inappraising their views, so must we also consider that context in the past. Thinkers haveoften, though certainly not always, been connected to institutions of learning, and theirbeliefs have tended to be complex and even to hinge on expertise shared by few. Whatphilosophical exposition meant to these scholars was often at variance with whatAmericans looking for enlightenment expected. Americans have
to havespeculative questions addressed intelligently, but when pursued in some settingsphilosophy risked losing the audience that had called philosophers into existence in thefirst place. Philosophy is a subtle and demanding exercise but has to establish someproductive and positive relation with its cultural environment if it is to remain healthy as

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