A Natural History of Pragmatism by Joan Richardson

By Joan Richardson

Joan Richardson offers a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the crucial American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with quite a few branches of the typical sciences and strains the improvement of Jamesian pragmatism from the past due 19th century via modernism, following its pointings into the current. Richardson combines strands from America's spiritual event with clinical details to provide interpretations that holiday new floor in literary and cultural historical past. This e-book exemplifies the price of interdisciplinary methods to generating literary feedback. In a sequence of hugely unique readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A typical heritage of Pragmatism tracks the interaction of spiritual reason, medical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and ambitious, this groundbreaking e-book might be crucial studying for all scholars and students of yank literature.

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4 5 The facts or natural models imaginatively adopted by Edwards and Emerson were, of course, different, reflecting both what they had each come to Introduction: frontier instances 13 know through direct observation and experience and what they had read. Similarly, the conceptual innovations of William James, of Henry James (especially in his late work), of Wallace Stevens and Gertrude Stein – throughout the bodies of their work – reflect “the exquisite environment of fact”46 as it had come to be registered for them on their more and more finely tuned instruments, calibrated by their own reading and experience.

52 It is important to bear in mind, while considering Emerson’s selfimposed charge to provide in his work a “natural history of the intellect,” his ministerial inheritance, his preparation to make the invisible visible. This inheritance, combined with his variously expressed commitment not to be bound by inherited ideas, permitted him the freedom of voice necessary to announce his vision. Following Emerson, William James offers the next “frontier instance” in the evolution of Pragmatism. It is, of course, impossible to discuss James and Pragmatism without taking into account the work of Peirce, and, indeed, Peirce’s contributions inform the chapter on James.

49 More particularly, his reading of Emanuel Swedenborg has not been investigated in this light. Reading the work of each of these “scientists”– as they came to be named in his time – was for Emerson an active exercise of the imagination, an example of an “appetition,” in Whitehead’s terms, a search for what would suffice, resting places for his mind in its yearning for the satisfaction that, in the absence of God, he would call “good,” the adjustment of his “axis of vision”50 to things as they were coming to be known.

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