Synopses & Reviews
In this sequel to Pragmatism, one of America's outstanding philosophers, William James ( 1842-1910), responds to absolutist critics -- believers in immutable truth and innate or inherited knowledge -- who misrepresent the philosophy of pragmatism as just another form of positivism or regard it as mere egoistic solipsism. Objective truth exists, James argues, but it can only be known in terms of experience; truth isn't "out there" waiting to be discovered. And knowledge derives from a process of inquiring in which a chain of mental and physical intermediaries connect thought and things. Titles of the essays in this volume, originally published between 1884 and 1908, include: "The Function of Cognition", "Humanism and Truth", "The Pragmatic Account of Truth and Its Misunderstanders", "The Existence of Julius Caesar", and "Abstractionism and 'Relativismus.'"
Preeminent American philosopher and educator John Dewey (1859-1952) rejected Hegelian idealism for the pragmatism of William James.
In this collection of informal, highly readable essays, originally published between 1897 and 1909, Dewey articulates his now classic philosophical concepts of knowledge and truth and the nature of reality. Here Dewey introduces his scientific method and uses critical intelligence to reject the traditional ways of viewing philosophical discourse. Knowledge cannot be divorced from experience; it is gradually acquired through interaction with nature. Philosophy, therefore, has to be regarded as itself a method of knowledge and not as a repository of disembodied, pre-existing absolute truths.