John Lachs, one of American philosophy's most distinguished interpreters, turns to William James, Josiah Royce, Charles S. Peirce, John Dewey, and George Santayana to elaborate stoic pragmatism, or a way to live life within reasonable limits. Stoic pragmatism makes sense of our moral obligations in a world driven by perfectionist human ambition and unreachable standards of achievement. Lachs proposes a corrective to pragmatist amelioration and stoic acquiescence by being satisfied with what is good enough. This personal, yet modest, philosophy offers (...) penetrating insights into the American way of life and our human character. (shrink)
Whatever specific beliefs pragmatists share concerning experience, knowledge, value, and meaning, they generally agree that a central part of the business of life is to make life better. James speaks of the ideal of meeting all needs, Royce of defeating evil, and Dewey of making experience richer and more secure. They are at one in thinking that human intelligence can make a vast difference to how well we live, and they extol the possibility of improving our circumstances. They tend to (...) be dissatisfied with the status quo and see indefinitely sustained amelioration as the solution to our problems. Stoics, in sharp contrast, are quick to call attention to the limits of our powers and recommend accepting them without complaint. They tend to think that only our beliefs and attitudes fall securely in our control. Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius agree that anything we would consider an improvement of the human condition is temporary and that, in any case, fulfilling our desires accomplishes little. The key to living well, they maintain, is control over self, not over circumstance, and they embrace inner calm in the face of whatever misfortune befalls us. Even such a brief characterization of these two great philosophical traditions makes it clear that pragmatic ambition and... (shrink)
Freedom and Limits is a defense of the value of freedom in the context of human finitude. Working out of the American pragmatist tradition, the book aims to reclaim the role of philosophy as a guide to life.
The _Encyclopedia of American Philosophy_ provides coverage of the major figures, concepts, historical periods and traditions in American philosophical thought. Containing over 600 entries written by scholars who are experts in the field, this _Encyclopedia_ is the first of its kind. It is a scholarly reference work that is accessible to the ordinary reader by explaining complex ideas in simple terms and providing ample cross-references to facilitate further study. The _Encyclopedia of American Philosophy_ contains a thorough analytical index and will (...) serve as a standard, comprehensive reference work for universities and colleges. Topics covered include: Great philosophers: Emerson, Dewey, James, Royce, Peirce, Santayana Subjects: Pragmatism, Progress, the Future, Knowledge, Democracy, Growth, Truth Influences on American Philosophy: Hegel, Aristotle, Plato, British Enlightenment, Reformation Self-Assessments: Joe Margolis, Donald Davidson, Susan Haack, Peter Hare, John McDermott, Stanley Cavell Ethics: Value, Pleasure, Happiness, Duty, Judgment, Growth Political Philosophy: Declaration of Independence, Democracy, Freedom, Liberalism, Community, Identity. (shrink)
John Lachs claims that we are surrounded by people who seem to know what is good for us better than we do ourselves. Lachs discusses the joy of choice and the rare virtue of leaving others alone to lead their lives as they see fit. He does not mean that we abandon them in their genuine hour of need, but that we aid them on their own terms and not make help conditional upon adopting approved beliefs and behaviors. Lachs believes (...) help needs to be temporary to discourage dependence. He contends that leaving others alone in this fashion will create a community that is caring and responsive to the needs of others. All it takes is an urge not to meddle, even when we think it's for someone else's own good. (shrink)
I should like to offer three criticisms of Professor Cobb’s challenging paper. The first is that he has failed to explain how divine efficient causation in the world is possible. The second is that he did not succeed in showing that such divine causality is actual. Finally, he fell short of demonstrating that it is necessary to introduce the idea of God in a philosophy that is to give an adequate description of the world.
This well crafted volume provides unflinching assessments of the philosophical values that are beginning to unite - and that continue to divide - the cultures of America and Europe. Its contributors offer arguments that are once timely, provocative, and accessible. - Larry A. Hickman, The Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale IL American and European Values is a far richer book than a misreading of its title might suggest: it is truly a both (American)-and (European), not an (...) either-or. The perspectives of its contributors range over time and place, from the anarchic California of Gold Rush days to modern Poland, Russia, and Turkey. Eclectic in the best sense of that word, it combines philosophy, literature, history, and even religion without ever straying far from its central theme. And, somewhat incidentally, it also demonstrates just how multifaceted and complex is the idea of pragmatism. - William McBride, Ph.D. is Arthur G. Hansen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Purdue University, Indiana. (shrink)
Leading Harvard philosophy professor William Ernest Hocking , author of 17 books and in his day second only to John Dewey in the breadth of his thinking, is now largely forgotten, and his once-influential writings are out of print. This volume, which combines a rich selection of Hocking's work with incisive essays by distinguished scholars, seeks to recover Hocking's valuable contributions to philosophical thought.
: Starting from William James's classic essay, I distinguish ten different sorts of human blindness.ï¿½ I ask which, if any, of these can be eradicated, and conclude that it is neither desirable nor possible to make more than gradual improvements in our moral vision.
The essays collected in this volume and written between 1959-1980 clearly belong to professional philosophy in both tone and context. Yet their ultimate aim is to explore larger problems and to set the groundwork for dealing with them. For the focus of attention throughout is human nature, not so much in the details of its structure or its social and moral manifestations as in its most general features and constituents. What sort of beings we are and how mind and body (...) are related is the question at the very core of all inquiries into human nature. (shrink)
In Scepticism and Animal Faith, Santayana pursues two projects: the development of a philosophy of animal faith and the presentation of an ontology. The two projects are not easily reconciled and Santayana appears not to have distinguished them or recognized that they pull in different directions. The hypothesis that he has two projects explains a variety of the anomalous features of Santayana's philosophy, including the account of matter concerning which Kerr-Lawson and I have long disagreed.