A Contextualistic Worldview: Essays

A Contextualistic Worldview: Essays

A Contextualistic Worldview: Essays

A Contextualistic Worldview: Essays

Synopsis

This selection of articles by Lewis E. Hahn addresses the philosophical school of contextualism and four contemporary American philosophers: John Dewey, Henry Nelson Wieman, Stephen C. Pepper, and Brand Blanshard.

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Stressing the relatively recent contextualistic worldview, which he considers one of the best world hypotheses, Hahn seeks to achieve a broad perspective within which all things may be given their due place. After providing a brief outline, Hahn explains contextualism in relation to other philosophies. In his opening chapter, as in later chapters, he expresses contextualism as a form of pragmatic naturalism. In spite of Hahn's high regard for contextualism, however, he does not think it would be good if we were limited to a single worldview. "The more different views we have and the more different sources of possible light we have, the better our chances that some of these cosmic maps will shed light on our world and our place in it."

Excerpt

One of the primary traditional goals of philosophic vision has been to achieve a broad perspective within which all things may be given their due place. Historically, philosophers have sought to make comprehensive sense of the full range of facts from whatever field they may be drawn, whether from common sense, the sciences, the arts, religion, politics, people’s working life, or their play activities. Naturally, not all persons, whether professional philosophers or concerned nonphilosophers, have sought this comprehensive vision in the same way, nor have all agreed as to its precise character. Calling it “metaphysical interpretation,” as I do in chapter 2 of Part One of this volume, turns off many, even some pragmatists, because the term metaphysics conjures up for them metaphysicians who claim that metaphysics provides absolute certainty about eternal realities and who with Plato and Aristotle regard the changing as an inferior form of existence.

Not surprisingly, I shall stress the relatively recent contextualistic worldview, since over the years I have come to think of it as one of the better world hypotheses, if, indeed, not the best. By stressing the centrality of change, the intimate relationship between people and their environment, and the importance of putting things in perspective, I consider my contextualistic worldview as one of the better ways of making sense of our world and our place in it. and in using this particular world map to work on various topics, it has always suggested some fresh insights. in the first part of chapter 1, “Contextualism and Cosmic Evolution-Revolution,” I have sketched a brief outline of contextualism, and this outline refers to other more extensive accounts of it. Various other parts of this chapter also deal with contextualism in relation to other philosophies. Incidentally, much of the material for this chapter, such as the debate over evolution and the implications of Darwinism for later philosophy, I used earlier for lectures in upper-division general studies courses in American philosophy. Moreover, most of the other chapters deal with or express contextualism as a form of pragmatic naturalism.

In spite of my high regard for contextualism as a worldview, however, I do not think it would be good if we were limited to a single worldview, whether . . .

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