William James: Experience and Meliorism
More than most men, William James reflected the paradoxes of his society and his times. A reasonable, logical man, trained as a scientist, he deeply mistrusted reason and logic and the pretension that modern science enjoyed exclusive access to truth. Profoundly moralistic and religious, he inveighed against all orthodox moral systems and disdained both organized religion and traditional theisms. Raised as an aristocrat and nurtured in cosmopolitan circumstances in England and on the Continent, James was quintessentially democratic and by preference--unlike his brother Henry, the novelist--an American. Celebrated internationally as a teacher-scholar, he often felt uncomfortable as an academician and had great scorn for pedantry and intellectual affectation. Intolerant of fuzzy- minded, well-intentioned idealisms, James himself was warmly humane and unflinchingly idealistic. He always searched for the deeper meanings of experience, yet he steadfastly denied that experience had any ultimate
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Publication information: Book title: Progress and Pragmatism: James, Dewey, Beard, and the American Idea of Progress. Contributors: David W. Marcell - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1974. Page number: 146.
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