The Nineteenth Century [Routledge History of Philosophy, V. 7]

By C. L. Ten | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13

American pragmatism

James

J. E. Tiles


THE BERKELEY LECTURE

Pragmatism was introduced to society in a lecture given by William James 1 to the Philosophical Union at the University of California in Berkeley on 26 August 1898. 2 In his lecture James acknowledged that this brainchild was that of his friend Charles S. Peirce, and that Peirce had first introduced him to it in the early 1870s ([13.11], 410). The child had not been appropriately christened—James indicated a preference for ‘practicalism’—and needed ‘to be expressed more broadly than Mr. Peirce expresse[d] it’, but it offered ‘the clue or compass’ by which James believed ‘we may keep our feet’ on ‘the trail of truth’ (412).

James began his exposition of the principle with a formulation drawn from an 1878 article, ‘How To Make Our Ideas Clear’ ([13.36], 5:388-410) in which Peirce had first allowed his progeny to appear in public, although not under the name ‘pragmatism’. To attain clearness in our thoughts about some object we need to consider the effects of ‘a conceivably practical kind which the object may involve’ and reckon our conception of these effects to be the whole of our conception of the object, ‘so far as that conception has positive significance at all’ ([13.11], 411). Peirce had formulated his principle with a view to its application in science and in the metaphysics of science and had consequently illustrated its application with the concepts ‘hardness, ’ ‘weight’, ‘force’ and ‘reality’ in his 1878 article. But he had not hesitated to apply the principle also to the theological dispute over transubstantiation ([13.36], 5:401).

In the Berkeley lecture James drew his illustrations mainly from philosophical theology. Some of the traditional attributes of God—

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The Nineteenth Century [Routledge History of Philosophy, V. 7]
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • General Editors' Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Chronology xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Early Utilitarians 5
  • Chapter 2 - Whewell's Philosophy of Science and Ethics 32
  • Chapter 3 - J. S. Mill 62
  • Bibliography 96
  • Chapter 4 - J. S. Mill 98
  • Chapter 5 - Sidgwick 122
  • Chapter 6 - Comte and Positivism 148
  • Bibliography 174
  • Chapter 7 - Nietzsche 177
  • Chapter 8 - Dilthey 206
  • Bibliography 235
  • Chapter 9 - Logic and the Philosophy of Mathematics in the Nineteenth Century 242
  • Chapter 10 - Philosophy of Biology in the Nineteenth Century 272
  • Bibliography 296
  • Chapter 11 - The Separation of Psychology from Philosophy 297
  • Chapter 12 - American Pragmatism 357
  • Chapter 13 - American Pragmatism 381
  • Bibliography 405
  • Chapter 14 - Green, Bosanquet and the Philosophy of Coherence 408
  • Bibliography 434
  • Chapter 15 - Bradley 437
  • Bibliography 458
  • Glossary 459
  • Index 461
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