Santayana, Pragmatism, and the Spiritual Life

By Henry Samuel Levinson | Go to book overview

6
FESTIVE CRITICISM

Cambridge Interpretation in the Golden Age

Santayana is no voice in the wilderness when he announces in The Life of Reason that "the age of controversy is past; that of interpretation has succeeded" ( LR, 1:32). Virtually without exception, his Harvard colleagues continue to picture themselves as mediators between or among cultural interests during the first decade of this century. They all think their work is publicly important because it is statesmanlike, because they are engaged in helping diverse social institutions work out cultural compromises.

In particular, James is articulating his essays in radical empiricism (published mainly in 1904-5) and his lectures on Pragmatism ( 1907) in such terms. "The present dilemma in philosophy," he argues, calls for mediation or reconciliation between the "tough-minded" interests of science and the "tender-minded" ones exhibited in literature, social thought, art, morality, and religion. There is no reason to "reduce" science to sentiment or vice-versa, he claims, because each serves different needs in a "world of pure experience" that is neither "mental" nor "material," but "affectional" or qualitative, value-laden, and imaginative all the way along.

Royce, too, is engaged in projects that will lead him to claim, by 1908, that "interpretation is, once for all, the main business of philosophy," on the grounds that the primary philosophical task is to create community where none has existed before. Community emerges, Royce contends, not by controversion of hostile claims, but through a "comparative" or "interpretive" understanding of their positions. In this view, hinted at as early as The Religious Aspect of Philosophy ( 1885), worked out initially in The Philosophy of Loyalty

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Santayana, Pragmatism, and the Spiritual Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Pragmatic Naturalism and the Spiritual Life 3
  • 2 - Grace and Law 20
  • 3 - Wistful Materialism and the Sense of Beauty 52
  • 4 - Poetic Religion 87
  • 5 - A Pragmatic Life of Reason 119
  • 6 - Festive Criticism 164
  • 7 - Comic Faith 205
  • 8 - Strong Liberal Democracy and Spiritual Life 249
  • EPILOGUE 285
  • Notes 305
  • Bibliography 321
  • Index 331
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