John Fiske

EDMUND FISK GREENE was born on March 20, 1842, in Hartford, Connecticut, but he was not a lucky child. He lost his father at the age of ten and, when his mother re-married, the boy was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Middletown, Conn. It was at this time that his name was legally changed to John Fiske. John had always been bright, but now he became also studious and amazingly precocious. Before he was twenty, he could read in many languages, including German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch as well as Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He was well read in philosophy before he reached the age of ten.

While in Harvard University ( 1860-3) he became acquainted with the writings of Herbert Spencer and published several articles on evolution. Unfortunately for him, the doctrine was believed at the time to undermine religious and moral traditions and was, therefore, quite unpopular in the academic circles; naturally enough, his outspoken interest in evolution, and particularly his writing on the topic, provoked sharp disapproval among his teachers.

As a result, John found little encouragement to pursue a scholarly career and decided to become a lawyer. His chosen field had no attraction to him, however, and he was very glad indeed when Harvard offered him the position of assistant librarian ( 1872). The following year he visited England where he met most outstanding evolutionists, including Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, Lewes, and Tyndall.

Fiske's first book, Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy ( 1874), turned out to be an immediate success, and he soon received a number of invitations to speak. As a lecturer, he was extraordinarily in demand, and he found himself before long obliged to choose between keeping his job and continuing his speaking engagements. He chose the latter course, quit the job at Harvard, and devoted himself exclusively to writing and lecturing. In quick succession he published several semi-popular books, but had no time

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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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