Realism

REALISM, as understood here, is a philosophical position developed in opposition to idealism in its various forms, from mentalism, or subjective idealism, to the objective, or speculative idealism associated with the name of Hegel. It is also to be noted that it takes a stronger stand in its affirmations than does phenomenalism, which hesitates to go beyond sensations and appearances in its analyses. As for logical positivism, this turned out to be largely a programmatic movement with a shifting base. Its center of gravity has oscillated between phenomenalism, pragmatism and realism. It has been very effective, nonetheless, largely in the way of exploration.

To bring out this modern setting of realism, I have preferred to call it physical realism. Thus, it has nothing in common with Platonic realism, which reifies universals or forms. Of course, any systematic philosophy must work out its theory of the status of concepts and universals and the part they play in human knowing and the nature of things. On this topic, we must here content ourselves with saying that physical realism belongs to the empirical tradition, when this is taken broadly.

Modern philosophy was led to emphasize epistemology, partly because of the impact of physics. Because the full conditions of perceiving were not understood, the implication was drawn that the human mind is shut into its ideas. This approach is usually called the causal theory of perceiving. It was Berkeley who developed the idealistic possibilities of this gambit.

To put it sharply, the physical realist rejects Berkeley's attempt to reduce material things to percepts, or presentations, as well as Kant's identification of them with phenomena or mental constructs. In so doing, he goes back to a reconsideration of perceiving, holding it likely that the assumptions of the seventeenth century with its stress upon a mind-body (or soul-body) dualism, a mechanistic physical science, and a purely causal theory of the direction and import of perceiving have been outgrown in this more biological age with its recognition of responsive activity. Is

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American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Introduction - Orientation of Thought xi
  • Suggested Readings xviii
  • Part I - Fields and Problems of American Philosophy 1
  • The Philosophy of Science: The Problem of Factual Truth 3
  • Suggested Readings 19
  • Axiology: the Problem Of Human Values 21
  • Suggested Readings 33
  • Aesthetics: the Problem of Art And Beauty 34
  • Suggested Readings 47
  • Ethics: the Problem of Morality 49
  • Suggested Readings 63
  • Semantics: the Problem Of Meaning 64
  • Suggested Readings 82
  • Logic: the Problem of Reasoning 84
  • Suggested Readings 97
  • Metaphysics: the Problems Of Knowledge and Existence 98
  • Suggested Readings 113
  • Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Faith 114
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Part II - Sources and Choices of Philosophy 129
  • Transcendentalism 131
  • Suggested Readings 137
  • Idealism 138
  • Suggested Readings 146
  • Thomism 147
  • Suggested Readings 154
  • Personalism 155
  • Suggested Readings 161
  • Pragmatism 162
  • Suggested Readings 171
  • Humanism 172
  • Suggested Readings 182
  • Logical Positivism 183
  • Suggested Readings 191
  • Realism 193
  • Suggested Readings 202
  • Naturalism 203
  • Suggested Readings 210
  • Oriental Philosophy in America 211
  • Part III - American Thinkers 221
  • American Thought: A Chart 223
  • William Penn 227
  • Samuel Johnson 230
  • Jonathan Edwards 233
  • Benjamin Franklin 235
  • Thomas Paine 238
  • Thomas Jefferson 241
  • Benjamin Rush 244
  • William Ellery Channing 247
  • John Caldwell Calhoun 250
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 253
  • Abraham Lincoln 256
  • Henry David Thoreau 259
  • Walt Whitman 262
  • Robert Green Ingersoll 265
  • Charles Sanders Peirce 268
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 271
  • John Fiske 274
  • William James 277
  • Ambrose Bierce 280
  • Borden Parker Bowne 283
  • Josiah Royce 285
  • John Dewey 288
  • George Santayana 291
  • Morris Raphael Cohen 294
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt 297
  • Suggested Readings 300
  • Conclusion 303
  • Index 311
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