Walt Whitman

THE future poet of democracy was born near Huntington, Long Island, on the last day of May, 1819, and was named for his father, Walter Whitman, a local farmer and, later, carpenter and builder. There must have been some hereditary fault in the family, for two of his brothers were mentally defective and one of his sisters was decidedly queer. Walt himself, however, was growing strong, well-developed and handsome, with a remarkable mind and a rather unusual personality.

The family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1824 and soon afterward Walt went to school, but left it at the age of twelve to become a printer's apprentice. A voracious reader, he took also to writing, which occupation remained, in various forms, permanent with him. Both in style and content of writing he was unorthodox, and consequently difficult to appreciate and easy to misunderstand. Anyway, the publishers and editors he worked for found him too individualistic, rather unsociable, and stubbornly unwilling to get adjusted to ordinary requirements of literary work. He did not keep his jobs long.

Whitman finally succeeded in getting a better position, that of editor of the conservative Brooklyn Daily Eagle ( 1846-1848), then lost it for advocating abolitionism, only to be invited for the same anti-slavery views to take charge of the Brooklyn Daily Freeman.

Just before he accepted the latter position, however, Whitman made a trip to New Orleans, to do some editorial work, but suffered a severe mental disturbance, as a result of which his personality underwent a marked change, and he began to spend much time wandering about, associating and conversing with a great variety of simple people. As an individual, he became lonesome, keeping company with few men and hardly any women at all. But as a poet and thinker, he matured and deepened.

In 1855 he set to type his own great book of poetry, Leaves of Grass, a product of many years' work, but it was little appreciated at first and much criticized, possibly because it was written

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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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