American Pragmatism: A Religious Genealogy

American Pragmatism: A Religious Genealogy

American Pragmatism: A Religious Genealogy

American Pragmatism: A Religious Genealogy

Synopsis

Hamner seeks to discover what makes pragmatism uniquely American. She argues that the inextricably American character of pragmatism of such figures as C.S. Peirce and William James lies in its often understated affirmation of America as a uniquely religious country with a God-given mission and populated by God-fearing citizens.

Excerpt

This book is about American pragmatism, a way of thinking that has enjoyed renewed attention in the 1980s and 1990s. Recently, philosophers, social theorists, legal theorists, and literary critics have mined the rich texts of classical pragmatism (C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey) for new perspectives on contemporary problematics. Richard Rorty, for example, takes from classical pragmatism a suspicion of correspondence theories of representation and hones it in ways he thinks can extricate classical pragmatism from its ties with crass empiricism and crass utilitarianism. To give only two other recent applications of classical pragmatism: Frank Lentricchia elicits from his study of William James a perspectival epistemology that enables his literary criticism, and historian James Kloppenberg views pragmatism as a valuable means of articulating the possibilities of democracy and human freedom in the age of postmodernity. In general, what seems to attract contemporary thinkers to American pragmatism is everything it purports to be against : ostensibly, it is anti-universalist, anti-authoritarian, anti-Cartesian, anti-essentializing, and antirepresentational. One could surmise Sthat this anti - character of American pragmatism resonates with the de - and post - prefixes favored by many current philosophical and social theories.

This book, however, analyzes something that pragmatism is, something quite taken for granted: “Pragmatism is the only unique contribution American philosophy has made to the tradition known as Western philosophy. ” Pragmatism is “thought to be a distinctly American product. ” “Pragmatism is justly regarded as a distinctively American philosophy. ” Pragmatism is “the major contribution of America to the world of philosophy. ” Pragmatism is “the most distinctive American contribution to philosophy. ” Prag-

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