Samuel Johnson

THE namesake of the English Samuel Johnson, his younger contemporary ( 1709-1784), was born in Guilford, Connecticut, on October 14, 1696. We do not know much about his early childhood, except that he learned to read early and extensively and, being a product of the puritanic period, his reading was dominated by religious topics. Apparently he was destined by temperament and inclination to be a scholar and teacher. At the age of fourteen he entered the Collegiate School at Saybrook (later, when he transferred to New Haven, it became Yale College). On graduation he came back home to teach children, but soon was called to his alma mater to instruct young men.

In 1720 Johnson became pastor of the Congregational Church in West Haven. Unfortunately, some disturbing modern ideas began to reach him across the ocean. Particularly powerful was the impact of Newton's speculations. He was greatly impressed by the picture of the universe in which natural laws of irresistible causes and effects account for the motions of all heavenly bodies. But while admiring the Newtonian philosophy of determinism in the field of natural phenomena, he was unable to reconcile the corresponding determinism in the official creed of his own Churchthe doctrine of predestination-with his personal belief in freedom of the human will as the foundation of all responsibility. Finally he made his sincere doubts in the correctness of the "congregational way" publicly known, much to the consternation of his own congregation. A couple of months later he sailed for London ( 1722) where he took orders in the Church of England. As his new faith was not popular in his own country, he assumed the duties of a missionary at Stratford on his return and continued this humble and strenuous work for the following thirty years.

In 1729 Johnson had an opportunity to meet George Berkeley, then on his visit to America, whose subjective idealism proved to be very much to his liking. A long friendship and extensive correspondence developed between the two thinkers, both members of the same Church.

-230-

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American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Introduction - Orientation of Thought xi
  • Suggested Readings xviii
  • Part I - Fields and Problems of American Philosophy 1
  • The Philosophy of Science: The Problem of Factual Truth 3
  • Suggested Readings 19
  • Axiology: the Problem Of Human Values 21
  • Suggested Readings 33
  • Aesthetics: the Problem of Art And Beauty 34
  • Suggested Readings 47
  • Ethics: the Problem of Morality 49
  • Suggested Readings 63
  • Semantics: the Problem Of Meaning 64
  • Suggested Readings 82
  • Logic: the Problem of Reasoning 84
  • Suggested Readings 97
  • Metaphysics: the Problems Of Knowledge and Existence 98
  • Suggested Readings 113
  • Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Faith 114
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Part II - Sources and Choices of Philosophy 129
  • Transcendentalism 131
  • Suggested Readings 137
  • Idealism 138
  • Suggested Readings 146
  • Thomism 147
  • Suggested Readings 154
  • Personalism 155
  • Suggested Readings 161
  • Pragmatism 162
  • Suggested Readings 171
  • Humanism 172
  • Suggested Readings 182
  • Logical Positivism 183
  • Suggested Readings 191
  • Realism 193
  • Suggested Readings 202
  • Naturalism 203
  • Suggested Readings 210
  • Oriental Philosophy in America 211
  • Part III - American Thinkers 221
  • American Thought: A Chart 223
  • William Penn 227
  • Samuel Johnson 230
  • Jonathan Edwards 233
  • Benjamin Franklin 235
  • Thomas Paine 238
  • Thomas Jefferson 241
  • Benjamin Rush 244
  • William Ellery Channing 247
  • John Caldwell Calhoun 250
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 253
  • Abraham Lincoln 256
  • Henry David Thoreau 259
  • Walt Whitman 262
  • Robert Green Ingersoll 265
  • Charles Sanders Peirce 268
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 271
  • John Fiske 274
  • William James 277
  • Ambrose Bierce 280
  • Borden Parker Bowne 283
  • Josiah Royce 285
  • John Dewey 288
  • George Santayana 291
  • Morris Raphael Cohen 294
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt 297
  • Suggested Readings 300
  • Conclusion 303
  • Index 311
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