A Pluralistic Universe: Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in Philosophy

A Pluralistic Universe: Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in Philosophy

A Pluralistic Universe: Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in Philosophy

A Pluralistic Universe: Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in Philosophy

Synopsis

Going against the grain of entrenched philosophy, James argues in A Pluralistic Universe that the world is not a uni-verse but a multi-verse. He honors the human experience of manyness and disconnection (and various kinds of unity) in the world of flux and sensation, a world that is discounted scornfully by the monists.

Excerpt

Henry Samuel Levinson

First delivered as lectures almost ninety years ago, and published in 1909, A Pluralistic Universe still presents William James's most representative ideas in ways that are startlingly fresh, radical enough to call for overhauling the Western philosophical tradition, and sufficiently winning to continue playing a significant role in contemporary philosophy and cultural criticism. What are these ideas?

1. The best philosophers are public intellectuals . Recalling the words of Lincoln and, before him, the prophet Jeremiah, James urges his readers to heed this warning: "Where there is no vision the people perish" (165). The people seek well-being and need a conception -- not only of things -- but for how they should conduct themselves. In a criticism that still resonates at the end of the twentieth century, James declares that "the over-technicality and consequent dreariness of the younger disciples (of philosophy) at our american universities is appalling" (16-17). Of course philosophers must be reasonable, giving arguments for their views. But the genuinely memorable things about philosophers are the visions they argue for, the messages they give that make a difference in human lives. Philosophies, James urges us, should spill out of the lecture hall or seminar room into private and public lives by summing up lifeways that have been "forced on one by one's total character and experience, and on the whole preferred -- there is no other truthful word -- as one's best working attitude." (21)

2. Philosophy needs to catch up with a revolution

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.