Root Metaphor: The Live Thought of Stephen C. Pepper [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 36 (1):162-163 (1982)


For scholars of American philosophy, this anthology of essays on S. C. Pepper's works on metaphysics, aesthetics, and value theory is especially a welcome one. Also included is a reprint of a little known but valuable essay by Pepper entitled "Metaphor in Philosophy," which originally appeared in volume 3 of Phillip S. Wiener's Dictionary of the History of Ideas. In this essay, Pepper discusses his root metaphor theory in relation to Bacon and Kant, and some contemporary uses of the notion of paradigm, e.g., Wittgenstein and Kuhn. Lewis E. Hahn's "The Stephen C. Pepper Papers, 1903-1972" gives an informative account of six book-length unpublished manuscripts in the Pepper Archives at the Southern Illinois University. The rest of the essays concentrate on the various aspects of Pepper's works. A few deal with aesthetic theory and its application to critical practice. Of philosophical interests are papers by Elmer H. Duncan, David B. Richardson, Robert J. Yanal, Robert L. Armstrong, and Brian Caraher, and a short essay by Charles Hartshorne and a response by Joseph H. Monast. Duncan gives a just but critical account of the neglect of Pepper's Sources of Value, and a highly appreciative appraisal of Pepper's World Hypotheses. Caraher's careful essay on the conflicting root metaphors in Frege's theory of meaning offers interesting application of Pepper's conception of formism and contextualism to problems in Frege's philosophy. A variety of problems such as the root metaphor theory, descriptive definition and aesthetic experience are discussed. Efron's long introductory essay entitled "Pepper's Continuing Value" serves its purpose well in terms of indicating Pepper's influence in non-philosophical disciplines and the problems that arise in Pepper's value theory. What is missed is a sustained critical examination of Pepper's root metaphor theory, characterization of the various world hypotheses including Pepper's own selectivism, and its relation to ethical theory. The anthology however is useful in indicating the scope of Pepper's influence and the need to examine his contributions with reference to contemporary philosophical problems.--A.S.C.

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