William James and the Indeterminacy of Language and “The Really Real”

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 50:208-218 (1976)
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The american philosopher william james has been accused of being both a positivist and a romantic intuitionist. in the present paper, i wish to defend james from both charges. first, an analysis of the james texts will indicate that: 1) he refuses to distinguish clearly sensation, percept and concept; 2) he recognizes the ontological status of concepts; and, 3) he uses the word "perceptual" in two different ways. this two-fold use of the word has been the source of much difficulty and forces us to deal, secondly, with the issue of james' opinion of language. he is often thought of as a romanticist, as someone who believed that life was beyond all language. we shall try to show that this view also is wrong, and that there exist two different views of language in his texts



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