Idealism, Pragmatism, and the Will to Believe: Charles Renouvier and William James

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (4):1-23 (2015)
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This article investigates the history of the relation between idealism and pragmatism by examining the importance of the French idealist Charles Renouvier for the development of William James's ‘Will to Believe’. By focusing on French idealism, we obtain a broader understanding of the kinds of idealism on offer in the nineteenth century. First, I show that Renouvier's unique methodological idealism led to distinctively pragmatist doctrines and that his theory of certitude and its connection to freedom is worthy of reconsideration. Second, I argue that the technical vocabulary and main structure of the argument from the ‘Will to Believe’ depend upon Renouvier's idealist theory of knowledge and psychology of belief, and that taking account of this line of influence is of crucial importance for establishing the correct interpretation of James's work



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Jeremy William Dunham
Durham University

References found in this work

The American Pragmatists.Cheryl Misak - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Words and life.Hilary Putnam - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by James Conant.
Words and Life.Hilary Putnam & James Conant - 1994 - Philosophy 70 (273):460-463.
The thought and character of William James.Ralph Barton Perry - 1948 - Westport, Conn.,: Greenwood Press.

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