Men and Movements in American Philosophy

Men and Movements in American Philosophy

Men and Movements in American Philosophy

Men and Movements in American Philosophy

Excerpt

The story of American philosophic development is unknown to most Americans, and even to many students and teachers of philosophy in America. The neglect of this study may be partly the result of an excessive modesty about our own cultural achievements and partly the result of an excessive admiration for European cultural achievements. In the case of the "professional" philosopher, there is some excuse for both the modesty and the admiration: Until quite recently philosophy in America has not been pursued as a technical discipline. It is this very fact which should make it possible for many Americans to learn and to take pride in our philosophic history. There has been a "democratic" quality to American philosophizing; it has grown as much outside of academic circles as it has within the colleges and universities. Contributors to America's philosophic history have come from the farm and the factory as well as from the seats of government and of formal learning.

This book does not try to cover the full range of the story of American philosophy. It makes no pretense to being encyclopedic. What is attempted here is an introductory account, stressing the more formal side of our philosophic history, to provide a background for the general reader and the beginning student which will enable them to read further both in and about American philosophy. This history is treated in terms of the emergence, under various stimulations, of ten "movements," or "schools," of philosophy. No two philosophers, even of the same school, ever produce identical philosophic positions. To the general outlook which is characteristic of his school, each one contributes his own particular (and, often, peculiar) insights. A presentation of this history entirely in terms of movements would do violence to the individuality of philosophers. To avoid the impression of uniformity, each summary of the position of a movement in American philosophy is accompanied by a description of two or three distinctive individual philosophies within the school. Considerable selectivity has been exercised about the choice of philosophies to be presented. In some cases, better-known figures . . .

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