William James

THE philosopher's family was already well-known and distinguished when he was born in New York City on January 11, 1842. His grandfather, William James, a Protestant immigrant from Ireland, became a successful merchant in the New World and acquired millions. His father, Henry James, Sr. ( 1811-1882) was a man of considerable erudition, writer, lecturer, and as a follower of Charles Fourier was connected with "Brook Farm." And his younger brother Henry ( 1843-1916) was yet to become famous as a novelist.

William was introduced to traveling in infancy, for his parents made regular visits to Europe. Long periods of education were spent in Switzerland, France and England. Only in 1861 did the family settle down in Boston as much as it could settle down. By that time William was big enough to go to college. His choice was Harvard, and in Harvard he remained, on and off, for forty-five years, dealing in overlapping succession with the sciences of chemistry, biology, medicine, psychology, and finally philosophy.

However, the studies were often interrupted. In 1865 James joined an expedition to the Amazon, headed by Agassiz. In 1867 he sailed for a long stay in Europe, mainly in Germany, the primary purpose of which was to improve his health apparently seriously affected by some psychosomatic disorder. He returned free from uncertainty and melancholy, and an enthusiastic convert to Renouvier's doctrine of moral freedom.

It was at this time that he received an appointment to teach physiology at Harvard ( 1872). But gradually he shifted his interest to psychology ( 1876). His personality as well as health steadied more and more, especially after marriage to Alice Gibbens ( 1878).

James continued to travel from time to time, but now largely for professional reasons: to attend meetings of learned societies, to lecture, to meet noted scientists and thinkers, among them Charles Renouvier, Ernst Mach, Karl Stumpf, and the circle of British philosophers connected with the Mind ( 1880). He also

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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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