Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature hoped that the profession of philosophy would collapse, that philosophy’s style of reasoning would be transformed, and that analytic philosophy would be overturned. This essay looks at the 40 years since the book’s publication, and argues that the discipline has become more professionalized, that its style of reasoning is the same, and that analysis still flourishes.
Here at last is an American counterpart to Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. The eminent historian Bruce Kuklick tells the fascinating story of the growth of philosophical thinking in the USA, in the context of the intellectual and social changes of the times. Kuklick sketches the genesis of these intellectual practices in New England Calvinism and the writing of Jonathan Edwards. He discusses theology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the origins of collegiate philosophy in the early part (...) of the nineteenth century. We see the development of secular preconceptions and the emergence, after Darwin's writings of the mid-late nineteenth century, of forms of thought hostile to religion. Philosophy is situated in a variety of cultural contexts - the ministry, the growing system of higher learning, the conflict between philosophers and theologians and between amateur and professional thinkers, the suspicion of European ideas, and worries about the relevance of philosophy to public and political life. Kuklick's narrative portrays such great thinkers as Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, C. I. Lewis, Wilfrid Sellars, W. V. Quine, and Richard Rorty, and assesses their contributions to philosophy. He brings us right up to date with the first historical treatment of the period after pragmatism, and the fragmentation of philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. Kuklick steers a controversial course between the divergent views that historians and philosophers take of the significance of philosophy in recent years. Anyone interested in American intellectual history, or in how philosophy got where it is today, will enjoy this book. (shrink)
Ranging from Joseph Bellamy to Hilary Putnam, and from early New England Divinity Schools to contemporary university philosophy departments, historian Bruce Kuklick recounts the story of the growth of philosophical thinking in the United States. Readers will explore the thought of early American philosphers such as Jonathan Edwards and John Witherspoon and will see how the political ideas of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson influenced philosophy in colonial America. Kuklick discusses The Transcendental Club (members Henry David Thoreau, Ralph (...) Waldo Emerson) and describes the rise of pragmatism centered on Metaphysical Club of Cambridge (and members William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Charles Peirce). He examines the profound impact Darwinism had on American philosophy and looks at Idealists such as the Kantian Josiah Royce and the Hegelian John Dewey. The book shows how, in the twentieth century, the Nazi conquest of Europe unleashed a flood of European intellectuals onto these shores, including such major thinkers as Theodore Adorno, Erich Fromm, Rudolph Carnap, and Alfred Tarski. Finally, Kuklick examines the contributions of such contemporary philosophers as Sidney Hook and Willard Quine and such books as John Rawl's A Theory of Justice and Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. Kuklick pulls no punches in portraying the state of American philosophy today and its contested role in the intellectual life of the nation and the world. The range of philosophical thought in our nation's history has been great, from Edwards's Religious Affections to Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Bruce Kuklick has captured it all in a book that blends intricate details with sweeping vision. (shrink)
Writing about the intellectual development of a philosopher is a delicate business. My own endeavor to reinterpret the influence of Hegel on Dewey troubles some scholars because, they believe, I make Dewey seem less original.1 But if, like Dewey, we overcome Cartesian dualism, placing the development of the self firmly within a complex matrix of social processes, we are forced to reexamine, without necessarily surrendering, the notion of individual originality, or what Neil Gross calls “discourse[s] of creative genius.”2 To use (...) a mundane example, I can recall several conversations with Dewey scholars about his dislike for his home state of Vermont, all of which revolved around personal reasons he may.. (shrink)
At a time when almost all African American college students attended black colleges, philosopher William Fontaine was the only black member of the University of Pennsylvania faculty—and quite possibly the only black member of any faculty in the Ivy League. Little is known about Fontaine, but his predicament was common to African American professionals and intellectuals at a critical time in the history of civil rights and race relations in the United States. Black Philosopher, White Academy is at once a (...) biographical sketch of a man caught up in the issues and the dilemmas of race in the middle of the last century; a portrait of a salient aspect of academic life then; and an intellectual history of a period in African American life and letters, the discipline of philosophy, and the American academy. It is also a meditation on the sources available to a practicing historian and, frustratingly, the sources that are not. Bruce Kuklick stays close to the slim packet of evidence left on Fontaine's life and career but also strains against its limitations to extract the largest possible insights into the life of the elusive Fontaine. (shrink)
Why is someone enduringly prized as a philosopher? To answer this question, this historical case study examines the intersecting careers of John Rawls and R. M. Hare. It looks at their writings, a complex chain of disagreements, the argumentative dimension. The essay moreover explores the clash of differing temperaments. Finally, themes in addition to ratiocination and personality are factored in: the leanings of the institutions that control access to intellectual endeavor; the public square—politics widely conceived—into which the two men were (...) thrown; and the cultural rivalry between England and America after World War Two. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviewed by:Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual BiographyBruce KuklickDavid S. Brown, Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual BiographyChicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. xxiv+291 pp. Notes, Bibliographic Essay, Sources, Students of Richard Hofstadter, Index. $27.50.In the mid-twentieth century Richard Hofstadter was one the finest historians of the United States. Uncommitted to work in primary sources, he was perhaps not at the level of Perry Miller, Vann Woodward, and Edmund Morgan. But Hofstadter had (...) a greater range and wider influence than these men, and the combination of intellectual and political history that he wrote was unique, as was the penetration of his intellect and his appealing sensibility.Hofstadter was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of a Lutheran mother and a father who was a secular Jew. The son went to the local University of Buffalo. While not as impoverished as this biography is inclined to make him, Dick Hofstadter "married up" after he fell in love with Felice Swados, the daughter of a Buffalo Jewish doctor who was also a student at the University. Swados introduced Hofstadter to the Marxist intellectual left of the 1930s, although he was himself a successful and intelligent student leader. In the years after their graduation, the couple had a tempestuous start to their marriage, but over the next several years they built a life in New York City. Felice became the medical columnist for Time; Dick productively completed a doctoral degree in history at Columbia University. They both continued their radical activities. In the late 1930s he was briefly a member of the American Communist Party, although Dick quickly resigned because of the authoritarian nature of the organization. Even then, however, he was more removed and skeptical than Felice, with more of an historian's impartiality and sense of the tragic. Felice's unambiguous commitments moved him, but Dick was, literally, only half-inclined to the Jewish left.Swados died of cancer in 1945, after they had moved to Washington, D.C., where Hofstadter was teaching at the University of Maryland. But a year later the devastated young man obtained a position at Columbia. At the same time he met and married Beatrice Kevitt, another capable woman with literary and editorial talent.In 1948 Hofstadter published what I still think is his masterwork, The American Political Tradition. A series of sharp portraits of leading politicians, [End Page 574] the book owed much to Hofstadter's leftist background. It was indebted to Marxist analyses, or at least to those of the sort promulgated by the great historian, Charles Beard, who saw economics as central to the study of national life. But Hofstadter did not see a clash between capitalists and their opponents in the United States. He viewed the entire tradition of American politicians as committed to a certain kind of exploitative social system, although his book did not quite have the edge suggested by this last phrase. Hofstadter became known as a "consensus" historian who had a monolithic sense of the American experience, although this monolith was not benign as was that of other practitioners of consensus.In the 1950s Hofstadter, now a prominent Columbia faculty member, moved away from some of the economic preconceptions of The American Political Tradition. Instead, in his two other important books, The Age of Reform (1955) and The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1965), he brought to bear on the American experience a group of concepts that he took from his study of the social sciences. Overall, these two books undermined his previous materialist interpretation of politics. Instead, Hofstadter found that irrational fears, psychological maladjustments, and concerns about status might motivate leaders and movements more than a rational appraisal of self-interest. In retrospect, this 1950s social science does not appear very enlightening, and so Hofstadter's absorption of it is not to be praised. On the other side, so many of his fellow historians attacked him for his interdisciplinary bent that his generous outreach looks more than daring. Hofstadter's own personal politics shifted, too. He became a staunch if critical defender of the social democratic liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and its impulses in the 1950s and 1960s.In... (shrink)
_Contents:_ Introduction, Bibliography and Textual Note Lecture I: The Present Dilemma in Philosophy Lecture II: What Pragmatism Means Lecture III: Some Metaphysical Problems Pragmatically Considered Lecture IV: The One and the Many Lecture V: Pragmatism and Common Sense Lecture VI: Pragmatism's Conception of Truth Lecture VII: Pragmatism and Humanism Lecture VIII: Pragmatism and Religion.
: This comment on Campbell argues that a good book could be made better if more critical judgment was displayed. Attempts to recover the complete past must be abandoned, and especially in the history of ideas, evaluative judgments about the worth of ideas must be made and the presuppositions of thought must be explored.
When I write about ‘American philosophy’ in this paper, I refer not to the practice of philosophizing in a certain geographic area during a certain time. Rather I mean a scholarly field defined by certain conventions, standard arguments, and major works. I hope primarily to show that that area of inquiry is befuddled. I also want to suggest, however, that it may be unhelpful to try to write about the practice of philosophizing in a certain geographic area—the continental United States—in (...) anything like the way scholars now write about it. (shrink)
A model constructed from the "ideal observer" ethical theory accounts for many pervasive peculiarities of the craft of history and reflects central elements of the mind of the practicing historian. Both the ideal historian and the ideal observer can be characterized by the same adjec tives: omniscient, disinterested, dispassionate, consistent, objective, and empirical. In discussions of human conduct historians try to make evaluations from the point of view of an ideal observer. The historian's ideal of objectivity, his faith in a (...) basic ontological structure which gives order and intelligibility to the world, and his "method of empathic understanding" are all illuminated by the model. (shrink)
This essay first traces change in, roughly, the epistemology of the humanities from the 1950s to the 21st century. The second section looks at how the meaning and options in moral philosophy altered in more or less the same period. The last and easily most speculative section examines how these changes permeated American culture, and how professional philosophers responded to the challenges of the new political world they inhabited.