The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James

The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James

The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James

The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James

Excerpt

William James stands as one of America's leading philosophers. He is one of the most articulate and effective spokesmen for what has been historically this country's most important and influential philosophical movement -- pragmatism. While James has been highly regarded as a philosopher, and while deference is consistently paid to his importance in America's philosophical heritage, he has received far less attention in the way of technical philosophical commentary than would normally be expected. James is most often considered in the context of philosophical or intellectual history. Commentators tend to provide an exegesis of his more important pragmatic doctrines, but do not engage in a detailed examination and assessment of his reasons and arguments. The relative paucity of close work on James is due in part to the fact that he has often been regarded as an insightful but erratic philosopher, whose pragmatism does not represent a closely argued or integrated philosophical system.

It is true that in many of his writings James abandoned most of the accouterments that are characteristic of technical philosophers. For the most part, he did not involve himself in the full, painstaking articulation of his own considered positions, or in clarifying or making explicit the ways in which various aspects of his philosophy relate and support one another as parts of a systematic whole. His most influential writings appear in the form of semipopular lectures where his vivid pictorial imagination and dramatic mode of expression . . .

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