Nature in American Philosophy (Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, Volume 42)

Nature in American Philosophy (Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, Volume 42)

Edited by Jean De Groot
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  • Book Info
    Nature in American Philosophy (Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, Volume 42)
    Book Description:

    With its focus on philosophy of nature, this book fills a gap in the ongoing reassessment of nineteenth-century American philosophy, and it opens the way to further study of the role played by reflection on nature in the emergence of the American mind.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2043-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xxii)

    The papers in this volume all provide insight on the theme of nature as it was a theme in classical American philosophy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were originally presented in a series of lectures, Nature in American Philosophy, held at The Catholic University of America in Fall, 2000. The series honored the dean emeritus of the School of Philosophy, Prof. Jude P. Dougherty, who has a long and continuing interest in American philosophy that began with his own doctoral dissertation on John Dewey.¹

    The themes of nature and community are striking in their prominence in American...

  5. 1 The Colors of the Spirit: Emerson and Thoreau on Nature and the Self
    (pp. 1-18)

    Nature as portrayed in Emerson’s and Thoreau’s writings is always mediated by, or entangled with, the human being. I do not mean this simply in the sense that these writers are human beings writing about nature, so that their portrayals, their texts, are human products. Rather, for all their interest in nature as it is, and for all their valuing of nature precisely for its separation from the human, they still record, advert to, or show within their texts ways in which the nature about which they care so deeply is tied up with human language, thought, feeling, and action....

  6. 2 The World Beyond Our Mountains: Nature in the Philosophy of Josiah Royce
    (pp. 19-36)

    A few months before he died in 1916, Josiah Royce sketched a brief autobiography, and in these remarks, as he searched for the central theme of his philosophy, he wrote the following insightful observation:

    When I review this whole process, I strongly feel that my deepest motives and problems have centered about the Idea of the Community, although this idea has only come gradually to my clear consciousness. This was what I was intensely feeling in the days when my sisters and I looked across the Sacramento Valley, and wondered about the great world beyond our mountains.¹

    The meaning of...

  7. 3 Sense-Critical Realism: A Transcendental-Pragmatic Interpretation of C. S. Peirce’s Theory of Reality and Truth
    (pp. 37-52)

    The need has arisen in Peirce studies for a systematic account of Peirce’s understanding of truth. It has become important to provide such an account because of recent debate about the so-called epistemic or discourse-pragmatic explication of the meaning of truth. Both the German and the American participants in this debate have, at least implicitly, related their discussion to Peirce’s theory of reality and truth.¹ But they have not always taken into account the full scope and bearing of Peirce’s arguments. Quite recently the debate has culminated in a definite rejection of the Peircean or quasi-Peircean approach. Representative instances include...

  8. 4 Homegrown Positivism: Charles Darwin and Chauncey Wright
    (pp. 53-71)

    In the middle of the nineteenth century, European positivism began to have the same broad and varied influence on American thought as German idealism had exerted during the preceding fifty years. Assessments of positivism’s influence on American philosophy usually focus on the maxim of verification, phenomenalism in the interpretation of sense experience, and the rejection of metaphysics and theology as nonsense. From this standpoint, positivism assured the independence of science and ushered in a new enlightenment of logic.¹ There are, however, deeper currents that positivism initiated in American philosophy. To understand them, we must look beyond the two great positivist...

  9. 5 William James and German Naturalism
    (pp. 72-87)

    In his last book, A Pluralistic Universe, published two years after Pragmatism, William James offers a witty critique of many aspects of the philosophical debate in Germany. His criticism is devoted above all to the professional philosophers of contemporary Germany and their followers and imitators in Britain and Scotland. James comes close to ridicule in criticizing their “monism of a devout kind” and its “great disdain for empiricism of the sensationalist sort.” James gives another reason for criticizing the German approach to philosophy, however. He directs his polemic also against the lack, in his German colleagues, of “all spontaneity of...

  10. 6 C. S. Peirce’s Reclamation of Teleology
    (pp. 88-108)

    C. S. Peirce’s orientation toward nature was, at once, an innovative continuation of R. W. Emerson’s vision and an equally innovative reclamation of the Aristotelian conception of natural teleology. This is, at least, my thesis. But since the emphasis of my account will ultimately fall upon Peirce’s reclamation of teleology (since this is the direction in which my reflections finally tend), my title stresses this side of my thesis. My own authorial teleology does not encompass the goal of proving this claim; rather my aim is to render this thesis sufficiently definite, interesting, and plausible to encourage others to join...

  11. 7 Nature and Fact in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America
    (pp. 109-126)

    Today political science speaks of facts but studiously avoids speaking of nature or natural or what happens naturally. Classical political science, however, rests on nature and never speaks of facts. “Fact” is a modern term that seems to do the work, or some of the work, “nature” did for the ancients. Yet Tocqueville uses both terms. He is not unique in this; the practice of consulting “fact” was invented long before the term “nature” was abandoned under separate attacks from Nietzsche’s historicism and scientific positivism. But Tocqueville’s use of the two terms, now considered mutually exclusive, shows his awareness of...

  12. 8 Holmes on Natural Law
    (pp. 127-137)

    So the eighty-eight-year-old Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to Harold Laski on September 15, 1929, just weeks before the stock market crashed, plunging the world into depression.

    What are we to make of Holmes’s statements? “Values,” he says, are merely “generalizations emotionally expressed.” As such, they are “matters for the same science as other observations of fact.” They have no “transcendental sanction.” Of course, different people, and, especially, different peoples, “differ in their values.” These differences are mere “matters of fact” and deserve no particular respect beyond the respect owed to “what exists.” “Man is an idealizing animal.” He expresses his...

  13. 9 Dewey’s Metaphysics of Existence
    (pp. 138-156)

    One reasonable suggestion about how to read John Dewey’s epistemology—which, on Dewey’s conviction, requires attending to his metaphysics as well—holds that Dewey agrees with Hegel about replacing the fiction of Kant’s Transcendental Ego with actual human beings; and that, as a result, Dewey binds his own calling in exorcising every vestige of “Cartesianism” and every vestige of Kantian transcendentalism; and that, succeeding there, he turns against the idealist extravagances of his own early efforts until they yield the leanest naturalistic realism that can escape the paradoxes of the pre-Kantian and Kantian (and even Hegelian) tradition.

    You may see...

  14. 10 Perspectives on Nature in American Thought
    (pp. 157-180)

    Understanding our human situation in the world individually as persons and collectively as a species is—either way—a complex project that has many different aspects. Natural philosophy—the project of comprehending how things go in the world about us—is clearly one of them. Traditionally it has been largely focused on the business of explanation. But there is also another aspect, that of orientation, of relating ourselves to our setting in the world’s scheme of things with a view to matters of appreciation and evaluation—the requisites for guidance in matters of thought and action. The development of our...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 181-182)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-196)
  17. Index Nominum
    (pp. 197-200)
  18. Index Verborum
    (pp. 201-204)