Classical American pragmatism represents a historical period in American philosophy, spanning a particular time frame and including the particular doctrines of its five major contributors--Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, C. I. Lewis, and G. H. Mead. It also represents a philosophic spirit, a philosophic pulse, enlivening an incipient cosmic vision that, though brought to life in a particular period through diverse specific doctrines, is yet not confined within the limits of that particular period or those specific doctrines. Speculative pragmatism hopes to capture, systematize, and develop this elusive spirit, not as a study in the history of philosophy, but as an ongoing philosophic enterprise, as a philosophy still in the making. Such a spirit can best be brought to light, not through the doctrines of any one of the pragmatists, but through the collective corpus of their writings. The ensuing work draws its inspiration from this collective corpus.
Though what emerges in the following pages is not intended as a historical analysis of the doctrines of the classical American pragmatists, much of it is a speculative synthesis of what is to be found there. At times, however, the specific doctrines of speculative pragmatism cannot be seen as a synthesis and development of the doctrines that lie in the collective corpus, for they are not to be found there, though they are inspired by what is there. Chapter 6 perhaps best represents this aspect. The alteration of the metaphysical categories and the resultant metaphysical doctrines developed in that chapter may be seen as an alternative to, rather than an expansion or a synthesis of, the specific doctrines of any or all of the classical American pragmatists. They are not, however, an alternative to classical American pragmatism, for they are developed to capture and further its spirit, and in so doing provide a framework for interpreting the significance of the various pronouncements to be found in its collective corpus. Indeed, speculative pragmatism may be said to go beyond the writings of the pragmatists by the . . .