James, William

American pragmatism James J.E.Tiles THE BERKELEY LECTURE Pragmatism was introduced to society in a lecture given by William James1 to the Philosophical Union at the University of California in Berkeley on 26 August 1898.2 In his lecture James acknowledged that this brainchild was that of his friend Charles S.Peirce, and that Peirce had first introduced him to it in the early 1870s ([13.11], 410). The child had not been appropriately christened—James indicated a preference for ‘practicalism’—and needed ‘to be expressed more broadly than Mr. Peirce expresse[d] it’, but it offered ‘the clue or compass’ by which James believed ‘we may keep our feet’ on ‘the trail of truth’ (412). James began his exposition of the principle with a formulation drawn from an 1878 article, ‘How To Make Our Ideas Clear’ ([13.36], 5:388–410) in which Peirce had first allowed his progeny to appear in public, although not under the name ‘pragmatism’. To attain clearness in our thoughts about some object we need to consider the effects of ‘a conceivably practical kind which the object may involve’ and reckon our conception of these effects to be the whole of our conception of the object, ‘so far as that conception has positive significance at all’ ([13.11], 411). Peirce had formulated his principle with a view to its application in science and in the metaphysics of science and had consequently illustrated its application with the concepts ‘hardness,’ ‘weight’, ‘force’ and ‘reality’ in his 1878 article. But he had not hesitated to apply the principle also to the theological dispute over transubstantiation ([13.36], 5:401). In the Berkeley lecture James drew his illustrations mainly from philosophical theology. Some of the traditional attributes of God—aseity, simplicity, felicity—could be judged by Peirce’s principle to be ‘meaningless and verbal’ ([13.11], 425). ‘What the word “God” means is just those passive and active experiences of your life’ (428). Compare this to Peirce: ‘The idea which the word ‘force’ excites in our minds has no other function than to affect our actions, and these actions can have no reference to force otherwise than through its effects’ ([13.36], 5:405). And as Peirce had insisted that the dispute over transubstantiation was empty unless it could be referred to a difference in sensible effects, James urged that such disputes as that between monists and pluralists were barren unless definite practical consequences turned on the outcome. Although James suggested that the principle needed to be ‘expressed more broadly’ it is not easy to see from his lecture alone how, or how far, he thought it necessary to deviate from Peirce’s understanding of the principle. He offered as his preferred formulation, ‘the effective meaning of any philosophic proposition can always be brought down to some particular consequence, in our future practical experience, whether active or passive’ ([13.11], 412). The important point is not that he shifted the formulation from concepts to propositions—he was not grinding the axe which Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein were about to add to the logician’s tool kit—the stress, rather, was to be placed on the word ‘particular’. Peirce had formulated his doctrine in the context of a conception of practice as a complex of habits, that is as general patterns of responding to experience. James cited Peirce’s doctrine that the function of thinking is to produce habits of action (411), but where for Peirce ‘what a thing means is simply what habits it involves’, for James the meaning of a proposition had its bearing on conduct through foretelling some particular turn in our experience. Differences in ‘sensible effects’ were differences in sensory experiences rather than (as for Peirce) differences in habits of response to sensory experience (see [13.36], 5:494). James glossed his preferred formulation with the words, ‘the point lying rather in the fact that the experience must be particular, than in the fact that it must be active’ ([13.11], 412). He thereby departed in a significant way from Peirce, who rejected as a candidate for meaning ‘any unity among our sensations which has no reference to how we act’. For, having tied meaning to habits, Peirce tied the identity of a habit to ‘how it might lead us to act, not merely under such circumstances as are likely to arise, but under such as might possibly occur, no matter how improbable they may be’ ([13.36] 5:400). How this difference affected the way the two men applied the pragmatist principle can be seen in their respective treatments of the concept of God. Apart from reservations about the wording, Peirce would have endorsed James’s claim that, ‘the principle of practicalism says that the very meaning of the conception of God lies in those differences which must be made in our experience if the conception be true’ ([13.11], 424). James indicated the sort of thing he meant here by ‘differences in our experience’: ‘conversations with the unseen, voices and visions, responses to prayer, changes of heart, deliverances from fear, inflowings of help, assurances of support, whenever certain persons set their own internal attitude in certain appropriate ways’ (428). When in 1908 Peirce offered what he called ‘A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God’ he made it clear that his understanding of ‘experience’ placed far more stress on what a believer was prepared to do than on what happens to a believer: ‘to be deliberately and thoroughly prepared to shape one’s conduct into conformity with a proposition is neither more nor less than the state of mind called Believing that proposition’ ([13.36], 6:467). Another sign that James and Peirce were moving in significantly different directions occurred at the end of James’s Berkeley lecture, when he commended Peirce’s principle for expressing the ‘English spirit in philosophy’ and heaped scorn on the ‘ponderous artificialities of Kant’ ([13.11] 436). James concluded by urging that ‘the true line of philosophic progress lies not so much through Kant as round him to the point where we now stand’ (437).3 Important elements of Peirce’s philosophy—his doctrine that a thought has meaning only through its connection to subsequent thoughts ([3.36], 2:289) and his stress on habits—had taken shape in (come ‘through’) a Kantian framework. In the course of a long review of an edition of the works of Bishop Berkeley published in 1871, Peirce had appealed to what with hindsight may be seen as an early formulation of his principle. ‘Do things fulfil the same function practically? Then let them be signified by the same word. Do they not? Then let them be distinguished’ ([13.36], 8:33). The main thrust of this article, however, was to trace the character of British philosophy back to Scotus and Occam and to condemn the nominalism of late Scholasticism, which had persisted and flourished in the works of Hobbes, Locke and Berkeley. Peirce continued to define his position partly through his opposition to nominalism, which he conceived to encompass the main currents of British empiricism, although he acknowledged that in the early 1870s his ‘ideas were acquiring an English accent’ ([13.36], 5:13). He could not have been entirely pleased at James’s move to enlist his brainchild in the ranks of ‘the English-speaking philosophers’ ([13.11], 434). In time Peirce felt constrained to dissociate himself from the movement which was initiated by James’s lecture and its subsequent publication and dissemination. He saw James as ‘pushing the method to such extremes as must tend to give us pause’ ([13.36], 5:3) and claimed that ‘the most prominent parts’ of the doctrine James was presenting were ‘opposed to sound logic’ ([13.36], 6:482). It was not his child but a changeling which his friend was sponsoring and Peirce moved to rename his doctrine ‘pragmaticism’—a name ugly enough, as he put it, to keep it safe from kidnappers ([13.36], 5:414). MIND AS GOAL-DIRECTED The philosophic distance between James and Peirce not only reveals how remarkable was the genuine respect and admiration each expressed for the other,4 it raises the question of what it was they had in common, which made it possible for James to appropriate anything of philosophic significance from his friend. The answer lies in the conception of mind as goal-directed, which James and Peirce accepted in different forms. This placed both men in opposition to the tradition of conceiving the essence of mind as lying in its capacity to represent objects in such a way that the adequacy of the representation is independent of its capacity to direct our action and help us to anticipate consequences. In his Principles of Psychology James took ‘the pursuance of future ends and the choice of means for their attainment [to be] the mark and criterion of the presence of mentality in a phenomenon’ ([13.1], I:8). Consistent with this criterion, a concept for James was ‘really nothing but a teleological instrument. This whole function of conceiving, of fixing, and holding fast to meanings, has no significance apart from the fact that the conceiver is a creature with partial purposes and private ends’ (482). Peirce had advanced his ‘pragmatist’ principle in 1878 in the context of a doctrine that thought was directed to the attainment of belief, where belief was a form of habit. Both men treated thought as teleological—although they differed over the character of its telos— and were thus attracted to the notion that meaning should be explained in functional terms within a framework of goals and instruments. Their differences over the telos of thought turned, we have seen, on the question of whether it should be conceived as particular (sensory experience) or general (habits of response). There were other differences, more concerned with what should be emphasized, which obscured the nature of the conflict between their different metaphysical outlooks. Peirce tended to speak from the standpoint of ‘the community of those who enquired’ and of its long-term direction. James did not reject this standpoint, although it is not easy to say how far he would have agreed with Peirce about its character or importance, for he tended to speak from the standpoint of individuals and their short-term achievements, a tendency which can be observed already in his early work. He had, for example, published a version of his views of concepts in 1879, where he contended that essential qualities were nothing more than those of most worth ‘relative to the temporary interests of the conceiver’ ([13.1], 86–8), and he quoted at length from this article in his Principles of Psychology ([13.1], II:335n.). Peirce would have accepted the contention which James added in his 1890 treatment of essential qualities, the only reason why for the chemist [water] is H-O-H primarily, and only secondarily the other things, is that for his purpose of deduction and compendious definition the H-O-H aspect of it is the more useful one to bear in mind. (334n.) But Peirce would not have been comfortable with the suggestion that the chemist’s interest was merely one of many ephemeral human interests with no claim to special privilege. Science for Peirce was a historical project which works to eliminate what is limited, arbitrary and accidental in the perspectives of individuals, and what is partial in the interests, which drive them to inquire ([13.36], 8:12). The definition given by chemists is not to be accepted as expressing the essence of water, since this definition may require improvement, but it has an authority over definitions which select other properties of water in that it has arisen out of a context of inquiry in which private ends and partial purposes have become—if not completely, at least more—public and impartial. James would not have disputed this, but he said little that highlighted it and much that tended to obscure it. THE ANALYSIS OF TRUTH This difference in emphasis contributed in large measure to the differences the two men had over the treatment of truth. According to James, applying the pragmatist principle to truth results in the question, ‘What concrete difference will its [an idea or belief] being true make in any one’s actual life?’ ([13.12], 97). The answer was that ideas we call ‘true’ are those which we can ‘assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify’. All of these words were interpreted in conformity with the doctrine that ideas and beliefs function as instruments. Where they do not interfere with the use of existing cognitive resources we are free to assimilate them to our existing stock of ideas. Where they serve to guide our thought and action in a manner which is ‘progressive, harmonious, satisfactory’, they are treated as validated, corroborated or verified (35). ‘“The true”, to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as “the right is only the expedient in the way of our behaving”’ (106). As a consequence truth became a property of an idea or an opinion, belief or statement on the occasion of our determining the instrumental value of an idea, opinion, etc. By 1907, when James published this treatment of truth in a book titled Pragmatism, ‘pragmatism’ had become the name of a movement, which was stirring up considerable controversy, and the centre of dispute was the application of the pragmatist principle to the concept of truth. James’s vivid and robust advocacy attracted attention, and inspired two stalwart allies—F.C.S.Schiller at Oxford and John Dewey at Columbia—as well as numerous hostile critics. But his failure to express himself with sufficient care and precision, left his cause exposed to apparently easy refutation. The general problem he faced can be appreciated by exploring the analogy with instruments. Instruments prove useful for certain purposes in specified circumstances, and when these purposes are superseded or circumstances change they are set aside. In calling an idea or belief ‘true’, however, we seem to be making a claim with some kind of finality about its worth, a claim which is independent of purpose and circumstance. By appealing to a notion of science as an unending progressive enterprise, Peirce had been able to apply his understanding of the pragmatist principle to the concept of truth in such a way as to finesse this difficulty. Truth, Peirce held, was to be found in ‘the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate’ ([13.36], 5:407). It is easy enough to recast this formulation to remove the apparent requirement that there be some point in the future where ultimate agreement is reached: to say an idea, belief, etc. is true is to say that no cause for its rejection or substantial modification will arise for as long as investigation might continue. Since reasons for rejecting an idea or belief include the discovery that its worth depends on special circumstances (which can be eliminated from its formulation) or partial purposes (which admit of being enlarged), Peirce’s analysis of truth was able at least to address the finality and independence which appear to be implicit in a claim that something is true. It was, of course, an important part of Peirce’s position—his ‘fallibilism’—that we would never be in a position to determine whether an idea or belief was true; the most we could ever say would be that so far we have encountered no reason to reject or modify the idea or belief in question. Even before he pushed pragmatism into the limelight, James had characterized this fallibilist outlook as the ‘empiricist’ form of dogmatism and contrasted it favourably with ‘the absolutist way of believing in truth’ ([13.3], 12). Absolutists claim to be able not only to attain truth but to know when it has been attained; empiricists claim it is possible for humans to attain truth but not to know infallibly when they have attained it. This meant that in one sense of the word, ‘truth’ designated an ideal towards which we would have to strive indefinitely, and in Pragmatism James explicitly acknowledged that ‘truth’ did function, as Peirce insisted, as the name of an ideal. ‘The ‘absolutely’ true, meaning what no farther experience will ever alter, is that ideal vanishing-point towards which we imagine that all our temporary truths will some day converge’ ([13.12], 106–7). He did not suggest that what we imagine here was a form of delusion or even a pious fancy; he accepted this rather as a satisfactory account of the meaning of ‘absolute truth’. On the one hand there will stand reality, on the other an account of it which it proves impossible to better or alter. If the impossibility prove permanent, the truth of the account will be absolute. Other content of truth than this I can find nowhere. (120) But James had little interest in what was not immediate. The second sentence to follow the last but one of the above quotations ([13.12], 106–7) reads, ‘Meanwhile we have to live to-day by what truth we can get to-day, and be ready to-morrow to call it falsehood’. Peirce rejected any suggestion that it might be permissible to speak of truth as mutable ([13.36], 6:485). To be sure we can and do change our minds about what we take to be true. There are, moreover, ideas and beliefs which, prior to certain dates, were not even entertained by human beings, let alone subjected to verification. This does not, Peirce held, justify saying that beliefs or ideas become true or may cease to be true. One can see, nevertheless, why James wanted to stress what happens today and might happen tomorrow: the long term, even on Peirce’s account, is not constituted independently of what is done here and now. (Or, if it should turn out that we are thoroughly benighted in respect to some matter, the long-term truth of that matter is still not independent of what is done at particular times in the future.) It may, however, have been a tactical mistake to apply the word ‘true’ and its cognates to what we embrace at particular times, even if that brought a special dignity to what James regarded as crucial to the concept of truth. It might have been wiser to adopt the course which Dewey eventually adopted: cease to use ‘truth’, following James’s preferred gloss, as ‘a collective name for [the current results of] the verification-process’ ([13.12], 104)5 and instead allow that ‘whatever we will not find reason to correct, so long as we go on enquiring’ is an adequate account of what we mean by ‘truth’. James may not have been open to such counsel. He preferred at crucial points to place severe strains on the ordinary meanings of words in order to secure the attention of his audience, even at the risk of being misunderstood. The interpolation made in the quotation in the previous paragraph points to a further example of this. The official statement of James’s doctrine held that the truth of an idea (belief, etc.) is ‘the process… of its verifying itself ([13.12], 97). This is not the way the word ‘truth’ is commonly used. Events in which ideas, beliefs, etc. are validated by experience are known collectively as ‘verification’; ‘truth’ is applied as a collective noun for whatever can successfully undergo verification. Within a few pages James acknowledged the strain his definition was placing on our habits of usage. We allow to pass as true a great many ideas and beliefs (‘the overwhelmingly large number of truths we live by’ (99)) which we do not even attempt to verify. These are not ‘abortive’ truths; indirect verification—evidence that other people expect experience to bear out the utility of these beliefs—allows us to count them as truths. ‘Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system’, although ‘beliefs verified concretely by somebody’ are what preserves this cognitive economy from collapse A few pages further James appropriated the scholastic distinction between habit and act and acknowledged that to be worthy to be counted a ‘truth’, a belief does not have to be actually (in actu) guiding our practice, just as a person does not have to be lifting weights to be reckoned strong. ‘All such qualities sink to the status of ‘habits’ between their times of exercise; and similarly truth becomes a habit of certain of our ideas and beliefs in their intervals of rest from their verifying activities’ (106). So why define truth as a process if, within James’s pragmatism, truth can have a sense in which it applies not to the process of verification but to what is able to withstand the process? What James appears to be doing with his definition is drawing attention to what he believed to be crucial, just as his frequent use of financial metaphors (‘cash basis’, ‘cash value’) called attention to the same need of a practical foundation for our cognitive practices. But calling truth a process made it easier for opponents to suggest that the doctrine was riddled with confusion, just as financial metaphors and words like ‘expedient’ allowed opponents to insinuate that behind James’s doctrine were crass commercial values.6 ANTI-REALISM Although expressing the doctrine of truth with more care might have enabled James to go some distance toward placating Peirce, it is not clear that this would have resolved all of their differences over the concept of truth. There remains James’s fondness for the claim that ‘Truth is made’ ([13.12], 104) as opposed to ‘discovered’ and the evidence that not all of what he meant by this is contained in the claim that truth arises out of the process of verification (and re-verification). Part of this claim appears to have been intended by James to reflect the degrees of freedom which we have in fashioning representations able to function cognitively as instruments. What truths we embrace here and now (and hence in the long run) depend on how we carve out and carve up the objects of our experience in order to fashion representations. And how we do that is a function of our purposes (121, 206). Having come to his philosophy through Kant, Peirce would not have found alien the idea that objects, and our classifications of them, are in important respects the products of our cognitive activity. But this raises the question whether (within whatever constraints might be imposed by our cognitive constitution) we can adopt different systems of representation, systems which would if adopted lead subsequent enquiry in such different directions that we could not plausibly regard them as taking us to the same ‘final opinion’, the same ‘truth’. This is one way to read the implications of James’s doctrines that our means of representation are instruments serving concrete purposes and that truth is made. This implication, however, requires that it makes sense to suppose that we are free at one or another stage in our history to adopt one set of purposes, to which one set of cognitive instruments would be well adapted, and eschew another set of purposes, to which a different set of cognitive instruments would be better suited. If the thought of making such a choice is coherent, we would not be able to say that the beliefs framed in one system were more true than those of the other because beliefs in each system would be established as true through serving a different set of purposes. The issue in other words is how much freedom does a pragmatist doctrine of truth leave us? It needs to be emphasized that no pragmatist suggested that our freedom is in any sense absolute. We are constrained in what we do by what our environment will permit us to do—by what means it affords for realizing our goals. We do not even have absolute mastery over the most immaterial of our cognitive instruments, ‘We can no more play fast and loose with these abstract relations than we can do so with our sense- experience. They coerce us; we must treat them consistently, whether or not we like the results’ (101). But it remains possible to ask whether it would make sense to say that long-term truth might not be uniquely determined, because at crucial stages we might make choices that would lead to one long-term truth rather another. Did James allow this when he said ‘absolute truth will have to be made…incidental to the growth of a mass of verification-experience’ (107)? There seems little doubt that Peirce assumed there would be what is now called ‘convergence’ if scientific enquiry were indefinitely prolonged. Phrased to avoid the implication that there will be a time when scientific enquiry is complete, this means that should there emerge two or more ways of treating a phenomenon scientifically, the task of reconciling and integrating these theories will not remain impossible indefinitely. Does Peirce’s assumption that enquiry will converge amount to anything more than an article of faith? For one important alliance of anti-pragmatists, Peirce’s assumption needs no defence. According to the opponents whom James addresses as ‘rationalists’ (as well as most philosophers who nowadays profess to be ‘realists’) representations of the world can be advanced independently of, indeed ‘have nothing to do with[,] our practical interests or personal reasons’ (109). There has to be convergence amongst the descriptions offered by all who seek an adequate representation of the world; two representations could not fail to be reconciled unless there were two different worlds. Truth resides in the one ideal representation regardless of whether anyone will ever ascertain it. For James, ‘There never was a more exquisite example of an idea abstracted from the concretes of experience and then used to oppose and negate what it was abstracted from’ (109). But having tied truth to ‘practical interests or personal reasons’ did James have any grounds for the expectation that our ‘verification-experience’ will converge? Although James did not address this specific question, his instrumentalism does appear to have definite anti-realist implications. His admonition against thinking that reality is ‘literally’ made of ether, atoms or electrons (103) does not appear to reflect mere caution regarding the ultimate utility of theories phrased in these terms. He claimed that ‘The term “energy” doesn’t even pretend to stand for anything “objective”. It is only a way of measuring the surface of phenomena so as to string their changes on a simple formula’ (103). Peirce’s response to this is likely to have been that if the concept of energy continues adequately to guide our interactions with what James here calls ‘the surface of phenomena’ there is no point in denying that the term stands for something objective. Any object represented in an opinion which continues to be accepted by all who investigate is by Peirce’s criterion real and objective. James accepted that in choosing our ‘man-made formulas we cannot be capricious with impunity’ (104), but, consistent with his sympathy for nominalism, he suggested there was a certain latitude in our choice. This expectation may well have been linked to the way he wanted to tie truth not only to ‘practical interests’ but also to ‘personal reasons’. Dewey viewed this appeal to the personal with some suspicion. He was content if it was to be analysed and defined in biological and ethical (social) terms, but not if it were (as in the humanism of F.C. S.Schiller) treated as ‘ultimate and unanalyzable, the metaphysically real’, in order to underwrite a ‘pluralistic, voluntaristic idealism’ ([13.18], 325–6). Peirce for his part would have accepted the link to practical interests; these were written into the pragmatist principle. Those who enquire are looking for practical guidance for establishing stable habits of action, and realists and rationalists are mistaken in offering an account of truth which pretends otherwise. Peirce, however, would not have included ‘personal reasons’ alongside ‘practical interests’; these generate the limitations and partialities which scientific enquiry is supposed to eliminate from our representations. The purpose of science includes transcending the personal at least in the sense linked to individualism.7 If convergence involved an article of faith for Peirce, what rested on faith was the belief that it is possible for humans to transcend the personal in this sense. It was not a matter of faith that science should converge; if our enquiries do not converge it will be because we have not conducted our enquiries in the right spirit. THE RIGHT TO BELIEVE That one might rest science on faith of this sort—on a set of beliefs regarding the possibility and supreme worth of working towards a common goal, which is specified only schematically—was endorsed by James even before he publicly adopted Peirce’s principle as his protégé. In the title essay (first published in 1896) of a collection, The Will to Believe, dedicated ‘to my old friend Charles Sanders Peirce’, James had defended the right8 to believe in facts where belief might well be something needed to help create the fact ([13.3], 25). The actuality of pragmatism’s truth is indeed dependent in this way on the beliefs of those who enquire and the cognitive posture, which pragmatists thus require of scientists, would be scorned by those—James cites (T.H.) Huxley and (W.K.) Clifford—who insist we must not ‘believe anything upon insufficient evidence’ (7–8). James was not at this point advancing the doctrine that truth is made—‘in our dealings with objective nature we obviously are recorders, not makers, of truth’ (20)—but he insisted on the status of truth as an object of common endeavour, ‘Our belief in truth itself…that there is a truth, and that our minds and it are made for each other,—what is it but a passionate affirmation of desire, in which our social system backs us up?’ (9). To insist that we as individuals have sufficient grounds for believing in the attainability of truth, before taking steps to attain it, could well, James argued, stand in the way of our attaining it (24–5). Thus the issue James took with Huxley and Clifford was over their suggestion that a belief system could be based entirely on intellec-tual grounds without resting at any point on commitment or, as James put it, on our ‘passional tendencies and volitions’ (11). Not only does ‘our passional nature’ influence our beliefs, there are cases in which this influence ‘must be regarded both as inevitable and as a lawful determinant of our choice’ (19). What Huxley and Clifford were doing, James insinuated, was foisting on others the predilections of their own particular ‘passional natures’ under the pretence of having put all emotional involvement aside. ‘The Will to Believe’ although pre-pragmatic in some respects was read as a document of the movement.9 Thus its attack on Clifford contributed to the accusation that pragmatism encouraged people to believe whatever would prove convenient or would lead to success measured in terms of personal satisfaction. For James had quoted Clifford as claiming, ‘Belief is desecrated when given to unproved and unquestioned statements for the solace and private pleasure of the believer’ (8). And in Pragmatism James said a number of things, which taken on their own might also be interpreted as embracing precisely what Clifford condemned. In the final chapter James declared that ‘On pragmatistic principles, if the hypothesis of God works satisfactorily in the widest sense of the word, it is true’ ([13.12], 143). Earlier he had quoted from a Christian Science leaflet and said of it, ‘beyond doubt such a confession of faith has pragmatically an emotional value’ (74). A page later the mystical teachings of Swami Vivekananda were said to be ‘a religion which, emotionally considered, has a high pragmatic value’. Clearly ‘works satisfactorily in the widest sense’ was meant to include ‘generates emotional security’ but if James’s audience failed to bring to bear other things which James had said about the constraints operating on belief (to be discussed here shortly) they were likely to carry away the impression that the solace or personal satisfaction offered by a belief were meant to be a sufficient touchstone of its truth. If James had taken steps to forestall this impression, he might have stressed that the primary consequences by which a belief or idea was to be tested were those bound up in what Dewey referred to as the ‘intent of the idea’. What Dewey meant to convey by this phrase was that included in the conventions which determine the commonly accepted meaning of an idea or belief are quite specific conditions for the correct application of the words which are used to convey it. Dewey thereby implied a criticism of James for his illustrative example argued that the fatal consequences of drinking a liquid to test the idea that it is a poison are very good indicators that the idea is true, and it is these consequences which are relevant to the question of its truth, not the bad consequences of a painful death ([13.18], 320). By impli-cation the emotional consequences of believing something were not to be treated as relevant to its truth. James might well have replied that beliefs function in multiple ways and, while accepting that he should not neglect the ‘intent of an idea’, he clearly would have resisted excluding the functions of solace and satisfaction in deciding how well they work. The account, which he gave in his Berkeley lecture ([13.11], 415–24) and reproduced verbatim in Pragmatism ([13.12], 51–6), of the pragmatic difference between materialism and belief in God, rested entirely on the reassurance which could be derived from the way the notion of God ‘guarantees an ideal order that shall be permanently preserved… This need of an eternal moral order is one of the deepest needs of our breast’, because it sustained hope where the ‘materialist’ outlook meant ‘the cutting off of ultimate hopes’ ([13.12], 55). These needs were not universal but present in ‘superior minds’, while their absence was a sign of ‘the more shallow man’ (56). This account of the pragmatic meaning of belief in ‘God’ was said by James to have been deliberately phrased in terms of future consequences. He argued that if the universe had no future, if this were its absolutely last moment, it might well be that the ‘materialist’ and the ‘spiritualist’ hypotheses were equivalent and there be nothing, pragmatically speaking, in the choice between them ([13.11], 414; [13.12], 50). But in referring to future consequences James clearly had in mind our attitudes towards the indefinite future long after any of our actions (perhaps the actions of any human beings) have determinable practical consequences. In response Dewey claimed that this account of the meaning of ‘God’ involved a considerable departure from what would appear to be sanctioned by Peirce’s principle. If consistently applied, Peirce’s principle would ‘simply abolish the meaning of an antecedent power which will perpetuate eternally some existence’ ([13.18], 315). Dewey protested at what he saw as the ‘unpragmatic’ procedure of determining the (emotional) ‘value of a conception whose own inherent significance pragmatism has not first determined’ (316). James, however, read the pragmatist principle as allowing consequences to be spelled out not only in terms of how we act but also in terms of how we feel. This was underscored when later he claimed that almost from the outset he had thought his argument that the spiritualist hypothesis served only to guarantee an ideal order was flawed. This was because, James believed, there would be for people an important difference if they could regard the universe as containing ‘a being who will [at every moment does] inwardly recognize them and judge them sympathetically’ ([13.12], 269n.). James’s retraction here leaves no doubt of the importance of private conscious experience in the system of values by which he intended to judge whether beliefs worked. He reinforced his claim about the need for God’s sympathy and recognition of our inner experience by means of a thought experiment involving a soulless robot woman who behaved in a way indistinguishable from ‘an animated maiden’. ‘Pragmatically…belief in the automatic sweetheart would not work’, because such a creature would not satisfy a man’s craving for ‘inward sympathy and recognition, love and admiration’ (ibid.) Our consciousness requires recognition (by God) and men require conscious recognition (by women) of their qualities. Beliefs that fail to satisfy these requirements do not work. But this is not to say that the satisfaction of such needs was sufficient by itself to underwrite the truths of beliefs. James made it abundantly clear in ‘The Will to Believe’ that he did not think we could adopt just any belief at will, simply because it offered personal satisfaction or solace. For any historically situated individual only certain hypotheses were ‘live’ and only certain choices between believing and not believing were in addition sufficiently important and unavoidable to be ‘genuine’ ([13.3], 2–4) The point about the need for new beliefs to cohere with existing beliefs, on which James placed considerable stress in his account of truth in Pragmatism, was already prominent in this article. Here it indicated how historical and cultural factors, along with empirical and logical constraints, circumscribe the proper sphere of will and emotion in determining belief. We cannot pick and choose beliefs to suit our tastes. We cannot, after all, just by willing, believe that we are well when ‘roaring with rheumatism’ or that the sum of two one-dollar bills in our pocket is a hundred ([13.3], 5). But the logical and empirical constraints which hold us to one or another of certain complexes of belief should not be expected to determine for us precisely one complex worthy of belief. Other of James’s examples illustrate well the cultural and historical factors which close off some options and open others to the will and emotions—which, in other words, make an hypothesis live and genuine for some people, dead or spurious for others. In the late nineteenth century belief in the Mahdi may have been among the mind’s possibilities for an Arab, but not for a North American (2). Whatever the force of the argument known as Pascal’s wager, the option to heed or ignore its conclusion, ‘take holy water, and have masses said’, is not alive for someone, e.g. Turk or Protestant Christian, who has no preexisting tendency to believe in masses and holy water (6).10 PLURALISM The shadow cast in James’s discussion, here and in Pragmatism, by the notion of belief systems as to a large degree mutually impermeable cultural entities gives his development of pragmatism a flavour which has become very familiar nearly a century later. There appears to be a tendency in James’s discussion towards what is now known as ‘pluralism’ (identified in some quarters with ‘postmodernism’), that is resistance to the principle that we should expect one system of beliefs to prove superior to all others. There may be a number of viable systems no one of which can ever be declared superior to the others. (In more radical versions pluralism merges with relativism: no system of belief can ever be declared superior to any other.) It is this tendency in James which allows some recent writers to enlist pragmatism in the pluralist ranks. Whether this tendency is actually present in James or is merely a superficial appearance, which would evaporate under careful reading, it is clear that it is not pragmatism as such which brings pluralism in its train. Peirce expected applications of the pragmatist principle, including those to the concepts of truth and settled belief, to generate in due course a single authoritative system. He wrote consistently as though there was a single preferred method of stabilizing belief, directed at a single objective, with a single expected outcome. And there is nothing in this which is inconsistent with his pragmatist principle. Nevertheless it should be acknowledged that fallibilism (which, although not the whole, is an essential part of pragmatism) and the undermining of ‘rationalist’ or cognitivist conceptions of truth, together ‘create a space for pluralism. If, as James put it ([13.3], 13), we cannot rely on anything to click inside us when we grasp the truth and thus should remain open to the possibility that our most strongly held beliefs may need to be revised, who can (ever) claim to be in possession of the one truth? If, as the opponents of pragmatism insist, truth is a two-term relation of ‘agreement’ or ‘correspondence’ which obtains between our representations (whether these be conceived as physical entities or as mental states) and the world, it is difficult to allow that there might be more than one relation of agreement. Once this ‘rationalist’ conception is set aside and it is accepted that ‘agreement’ has to rest on the functional role which a representation plays in some active intervention in the world ([13.12], 95–7, 216–17), what constitutes ‘agreement’ has to be taken as relative to the ends served by the intervention. Whether or not there is one truth (towards which we all can work) then depends on whether there is a single end to some of our interventions—for example those interventions which constitute our scientific enquiries—one that gives a special authority to those representations which serve well the unitary end of those particular endeavours. In other words pragmatists can acknowledge one truth only if they assume (as Peirce assumed) that there is some one end to which (regardless of whatever other ends we might have) our representations (theories) must serve. It is by no means as easy to specify such an end as it might at first appear. Notions in common use nowadays in analytic philosophy of science, such as ‘empirical adequacy’, do not sufficiently specify an end. What counts as empirically adequate knowledge in different contexts depends on why one wants to know. Although James characterized himself as a ‘pluralist’, it is not clear whether he stood so far from Peirce as to have been prepared to embrace pluralism about truth. The difficulty determining where James stood on this matter arises because the monists, against whom James defined his ‘pluralism’, were not concerned about this sort of question. James repeatedly took up the issue of ‘the one and the many’ to illustrate the application of the pragmatist principle.11 His interest in the question arose from a longrunning dispute, which he had with his friend and colleague, the idealist philosopher Josiah Royce. The issue was ostensibly whether the universe was one or many, and in applying the pragmatist solvent, which in this case required spelling out the consequences of the world being one ([13.12], 65–6), James first had to distinguish several senses in which the world could be said to be one. Did this mean spatio-temporally unified, causally unified, subsumed under a single genus, and so on? It was clearly not worth while applying the pragmatist principle to all eight of the possible senses identified in Pragmatism, but even for the more interesting cases James concentrated less on what difference it made to say ‘one’ or ‘many’ and a good deal more on how we should respond to the issue if we wish to be properly pragmatic about it. One of the more important issues which James flushed out of the unruly undergrowth disputed by monists and pluralists was ‘Does the world have a unity of purpose?’ Empirically minded pluralists observe different and often conflicting purposes in the world. The most they would concede, James suggested, was that ‘our world is incompletely unified ideologically and is still trying to get its unification better organized’ ([13.12], 70). Idealists sought a unification and reconciliation of this manifold in a single ‘purpose that every detail of the universe subserves’ so that ‘all evil in the universe is but instrumental to its greater perfection’ (70). Although James accepted this as a legitimate hypothesis, albeit one which it was risky to dogmatize, he clearly viewed the long-suffering and complacent attitudes towards evil, which it encouraged, with profound distaste. His discussion at this point alludes to an earlier chapter where he castigated as ‘a little ghastly…the satisfaction with which a pure but unreal system will fill a rationalist mind’ ([13.12], 18). With a rare display of social concern, James cited personal experiences of oppressed working men, gleaned from a book by a radical (‘anarchistic writer’), Morrison I.Swift, as examples of what his friends Royce and F.H.Bradley (‘and a whole host of guileless thoroughfed thinkers’) treated as conditions of the perfection of the eternal order (21). But while James could thus ridicule the idea of an already existing unifying purpose to the universe, he did not appear to reject the thought that ‘our world is…still trying to get its unification better organized’. Still less did he reject the idea that human beings should conceive their cognitive efforts as contributing towards a single goal, and suggest instead that they might expect it to fragment into multiple irreconcilable goals. Although in general James resisted antecedently existing unities, he was prepared to tolerate such unities as ends towards which things might move: ‘If such an hypothesis were legitimate, total oneness would appear at the end of things rather than at their origin. In other words the notion of the “Absolute” would have to be replaced by that of the “Ultimate”’ ([13.12], 78). This statement implies a far greater tolerance of Peirce’s conception of truth as the end of enquiry than is harboured by more recent pluralists. James’s response to another of the issues covered by the ‘monism/ pluralism’ blanket is also instructive in this connection. Idealist philosophers not only claimed that the Absolute secured for the world a ideological unity, they also claimed that it provided the world with ‘an all-enveloping noetic unity’ (71). In response to this ‘hypothesis’ James recalled how he had already credited the omniscience of God with the pragmatic value of sustaining conceptually (for the satisfaction of our emotional needs) an eternal moral order. This monist hypothesis was otherwise on a par with that of the pluralist, according to whom ‘there is no point of view, no focus of information extant, from which the entire content of the universe is visible at once’ (72). James was clearly prepared to recognize cognitive value (the grasp of some truths) in viewpoints which did not comprehend the whole. Idealists by contrast commonly argued that to grasp the truth of anything one had to appreciate its interrelations to every other truth, and hence truth was accessible only to an infinite all-comprehending intellect. James reckoned it possible for ‘[e]verything to get known by some knower…but the knowers in the end be irreducibly many, and the greatest knower of them all may yet not know the whole of everything’ (72). In this picture-puzzle universe known only through a multitude of overlapping pieces, there is room for the possibility that the pieces might not go together to make one big picture but instead conflict irreconcilably so that the totality would have to be treated as several pictures of distinct realities. And this possibility remains delicately counter-balancing the possibility of an ultimate truth. PRAGMATIST REALITY It may well be that this balancing act was the only stable position for James to adopt given what he said about the extent to which truth is made and what he took to be the implications of this for the concept of reality. James expressed the opinion ([13.12], 117) that his British ally, F.C.S.Schiller, had, in advancing ‘humanism’ (which was Schiller’s preferred label for his own philosophic position), pressed to misleading extremes the claim that truth is made. In ‘making’ our truths, James emphasized, we have to take account of reality in three different aspects. Sensations are forced upon us; certain relations between our sensations (some of them fixed and essential) are facts; and we are also constrained by what we have previously taken as truths (117–18). Within these constraints we still have a certain amount of freedom, for example to attend to some sensations and ignore others, and may ‘read the same facts differently’ depending on our interests (118). James happily embraced the doctrine that there is always a human contribution to human knowledge, that is to say our representations of reality will always reflect our interests and limitations—and that representing reality in a way wholly independent of human thinking is at best an ‘ideal limit of our minds’ (119). If ‘humanism’ labelled the doctrine that our beliefs about reality will always contain human elements, James was prepared to recognize it as part of pragmatism. We encounter fresh experience with a set of beliefs which determine what we notice. What we notice determines what we do and this in turn determines what we experience. So ‘altho the stubborn fact remains that there is a sensible flux, what is true of it seems from first to last to be largely a matter of our own creation’ (122). And if we add to this the thought that our actions and descriptions are themselves additions to reality (123), we will come to see ourselves as qualitative growth points in reality itself. James’s rationalist opponents were, as he saw them, committed to a reality ‘readymade and complete from all eternity’. Reality for a pragmatist on the other hand is ‘still in the making’ awaiting ‘part of its complexion from the future’ (123). Pragmatists held there was one edition of the universe, unfinished but growing ‘especially in places where thinking beings are at work’, while the rationalists held out for a universe in many editions, ‘one real one, the infinite folio, or édition de luxe, eternally complete’ and many finite, distorted error-ridden editions (124). Although the image of one edition as opposed to many pointed numerically in the wrong direction, James saw this as another version of the opposition between the monist (rationalist, many edition) outlook and the pluralist (pragmatist, single edition) outlook. But even here the apparent commitment to unity suggested by the image of a single (growing) pragmatist edition was balanced within a page by an expression of agnosticism: ‘For pluralistic pragmatism, truth grows up inside of all the finite experiences. They lean on each other, but the whole of them, if such a whole there be, leans on nothing’ (125, emphasis added). James contended (124) that this issue was not entirely a question of the theory of knowledge. The issue indeed turns in part on how we locate human experience and cognition within reality. If these phenomena—together with the events, the outcomes of which depend on the fact that humans think one way rather than another—are treated without qualification as natural events, it is difficult to resist the claim that reality itself is characterized by growth. In practice epistemology is commonly undertaken with one or both of two fundamental Cartesian presuppositions in place, presuppositions which are seldom made consciously or explicitly. Firstly, human experience and cognition, which shape human representations of reality, are treated as transparent, unaffected by history or culture. Secondly, human thinking is treated as something which occurs outside (beyond, at the margin of) natural events. It is because our thought processes are thus on the one hand not part of nature and on the other known introspectively so that those which are clear and distinct may be taken as transparently true, that human thinking is not regarded as a part of what humans aspire to know. It is hardly surprising in the light of these presuppositions that James’s contention that our ways of representing reality always reflect our interests and particular perspectives met with hostility and his contention that our efforts to represent the world are themselves developments of the world met with incomprehension.12 When disputes touch these presuppositions (as in debates between pragmatists and ‘new realists’ shortly after James’s death as well as in more recent literature),13 it is claimed that objectivity in knowledge requires us to suspend all our special (i.e. practical) interests just as objectivity requires us to suspend all personal involvement in judging legal and ethical questions. The notion of objective knowledge, moreover, precludes us from claiming knowledge of anything which our own activity affects (interferes with). In aspiring to know, we aspire to represent things as they are in themselves independently of us. The idea that our own activities (let alone the perspectives shaped by our interests) contribute in important ways to the objects which we aspire to know counts as scientific heresy. The humanist claim about the inevitable human influence on our representations and the pragmatist claim about the inevitable influence of our actions on the objects we aspire to know completely undermine, it is argued, objectivity as we understand it. The Cartesian presuppositions also appear clothed as a preference for logic over psychology. When Bertrand Russell criticized James, he observed how ‘Most philosophies are determined by their initial questions and by the facts which habitually fill the imagination of the philosopher’ ([13.28], 104). Pragmatists, he contended, were preoccupied with ‘psychical facts’. Where the scientifically minded think of the facts and the theologically minded think of God, pragmatists worry about scientific theories and about belief in God—signs in Russell’s view that what filled the imaginations of pragmatists were ‘psychological’ phenomena (104). This led pragmatists, Russell contended, to confuse what is true with what is thought to be true (111). It is the former question which, he insisted, should be addressed. Characterizing one’s opponents as preoccupied with psychology came to be a familiar pattern of criticism in the early decades of this century. There were no doubt serious errors which deserved the stigma that was attached by means of the label ‘psychologism’. But the stigma also served to silence or marginalize those who, like James, wished to treat human experience as a part of nature. It in effect placed their concerns on the mental side of the familiar body-mind dualism. Interests, satisfactions and perspectives could all be treated as belonging to the way the world appears to subjects, to features of their mental representations of things. Interests, satisfactions and above all the limitations of historically situated perspectives did not consequently need to be located in the natural (physical, material) world. Logic could (and did in the early decades of the twentieth century) divorce itself from all these psychological conditions—as well as eventually from judgement, belief and even inference—and concentrate on how truth could be distributed over the structure of representations, a structure conceived of as abstracted entirely from human thought processes. To sustain the pursuit of the question ‘what is true?’ without becoming entangled in the question ‘what is thought to be true?’ Russell had to insist not only that (as Peirce had insisted) science could pursue a unitary goal of truth but that it could rest its findings on a body of indisputable truths, in respect to which a fallibilist outlook would be unnecessary and inappropriate. Russell clearly operated with a conception of science as seeking a kind of satisfaction—‘theoretic satisfaction’ (108)—which was quite independent of any other kind of utility which might be derived from holding a belief. To achieve this satisfaction, he held, the empirical (‘inductive’) sciences tried to make all their statements agree as far as possible with observed facts. The ‘old inductive philosophy, as exemplified in Mill’s logic’ presupposed ‘that there are truths of fact prior to the whole inductive procedure’ (104–5). In the empiricist tradition, which Russell represented, the most secure of these truths of fact were given in sense experience. But, as Russell appreciated, James had sought to loosen the tie between truth and facts. Facts are indeed given to us in sense experience, but they are not truths; truths are what we say about facts (106) and, as noted above, James allows there to be latitude in how we respond to what is given in experience. Russell insisted that the meaning of ‘truth’ (what can be expected to be in the mind of a person employing the word ‘truth’, [13.28], 109–10) was tied to facts in the same way as the ‘theoretic satisfaction’ sought in science. Pragmatists would in the end, therefore, be forced to recognize cases of ‘plain matters of fact’ about which there would simply be no doubt (134) and hence presumably no latitude in how we should respond to them. Pragmatism, however, had begun as a principle for achieving clarity about what we can possibly mean by terms such as ‘true’ and ‘truth’. It recognized no obligation to remain faithful to what ordinary people meant by such terms. Pragmatists could moreover question the soundness of Russell’s inference that our ordinary conception of truth would underwrite a class of statements as representing ‘plain matters of fact’. To arrive at such a class Russell had to select statements whose implications were severely restricted. Russell’s candidates (bare reports of sense data) may well have seemed unquestionably authoritative, but only at the price of being uncommonly powerless to guide our practical affairs. Russell, of course, had professed more interest in what could be regarded as a matter of fact than in what might offer practical guidance, but ordinary people are as much interested in the latter as in the former. If Russell’s path to determinate matters of fact led away from anything of practical consequence, it is not clear that ordinary usage would be prepared to follow Russell. One might apply the pragmatist principle in the fashion of James and inquire what broader consequences turned on the specific dispute between James and Russell over whether certain of ‘the facts’ of experience could or should be represented as uniquely authoritative ‘truths’. Russell’s doctrine had the effect of securing, at the crucial point where experience impinges on our minds, a cognitive relationship to reality in which the mind has no alternative but to reflect passively what is given to it. The logical structure of our thought can then be relied upon to determine how the mind must conform if it is to possess a true, more comprehensive representation of reality. Russell thereby indicates the logical-empiricist route to the ready-made reality which James had opposed in the rationalist (idealist) philosophies popular in his day. By stressing that there are degrees of freedom even at the experiential interface between human minds and the world in which they are situated, James encouraged a picture of the mind as functioning actively rather than passively. He also stood as an obstacle to the total dominance of the conception of reality as something which imposes on us, requiring conformity from our minds and leaving no room for development in which we might play an essential part. Long before he became associated with pragmatism James had rejected any outlook which entailed determinism and denied human beings the capacity to act freely.14 The libertarian or voluntaristic position which James favoured may not have followed strictly from pragmatic principles, but pragmatism, even when conceived narrowly as a method for gaining clarity through spelling out practical consequences, rests on a conception of human beings as active and of their cognitive activities as making a difference to the world, rather than merely reflecting the way it is. THE FORTUNES OF PRAGMATISM James’s reply to Russell ([13.12], 312–19) concentrated on rebutting what James took to be perverse misinterpretations of his position found elsewhere. He did not engage Russell directly over the issue of whether statements we choose to make about sensory experience could or should be treated as ‘plain matters of fact’. He did remark on what he saw as the excessive ‘abstractionism’ in Russell’s procedure. These, as it transpired, were the two most prominent features of the philosophy, logical empiricism, which during the 1930s came to eclipse pragmatism. It was accepted (widely, but not universally) that the possibility of empirical knowledge rested on sensory experience, which provided us with a class of statements which expressed ‘plain matters of fact’. These were commonly taken to be observation statements reporting particular experiences, and more general statements (including scientific theories) which did not express plain matters of fact had to answer to such ‘truths’. They did so through a structure represented abstractly in the new (mathematical) logic, which Russell had helped to shape, and which held out the promise of a sharp distinction between the empirical content of statements (where they rest on indisputable fact) and the conventions governing the uses of words. In 1951 W.V.O.Quine challenged ‘two dogmas of empiricism’: one the belief that we can sharply distinguish between synthetic statements, those with determinate empirical content, and analytic statements, those true in virtue of the conventions governing language; and the other the belief that the empirical content of statements could be reduced to (represented entirely in terms of) the observation state-ments which they entailed. During the reign of these dogmas, pragmatism, although it had able supporters, was avoided by anyone who did not wish to appear out of fashion. Once the hold of the two dogmas had been broken, it became possible to speak without pejorative overtones of the work of Quine and Donald Davidson as continuations of the pragmatist tradition15 and possible to proclaim a revival of that tradition. But the pragmatism of Peirce, James and Dewey consisted in more than the denial of Quine’s two dogmas. It is far from clear yet whether the current modest fashion for pragmatism will lay sufficient stress on mind as goal-directed, on intellectual clarity as tied to practical outcome, on truth as the longterm product of our enquiries and on human experience as a natural phenomenon, for it to count as a continuation of the tradition rather than a transmogrification into something all its founders would have regarded as quite alien. NOTES I am grateful to Ron Bontekoe, John Hodges and Mary Tiles for helping me to eliminate infelicities from the penultimate draft of this chapter. 1 Biographical note: William James was born in New York City in 1842, the eldest child of Mary Walsh and Henry James Sr. His independently wealthy father established a reputation as a man of letters and a somewhat eccentric theologian. The oldest of William’s three brothers was the novelist Henry James, Jr, and his only sister Alice has recently been acclaimed for the diaries which she left. After considering a career as a painter, James took a medical degree at Harvard in 1869 and in 1872 began a teaching career at Harvard which moved from physiology through psychology (1875) to philosophy (1879). He was appointed professor of philosophy in 1885, retired in 1907 and died in 1910. For a chapter-length account of James’s life and career, see [13.25]. 2 The lecture, titled ‘Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results’, appeared as the lead article in the University Chronicle for September 1898 and as a separately published pamphlet circulated by the Philosophical Union and by James himself ([13.19], 285). Within a year James’s address had been discussed by Dickinson Miller in the Philosophical Review and pragmatism had been the subject of an address (published in Mind in October 1900) by William Caldwell at the American Psychological Association ([13.19], 293). 3 It is ironic that critics have detected distinctively Kantian elements in James’s thought. Kuklick ([13.22], 273–4) finds that James became more Kantian as his thought developed up to his death twelve years after delivering his lecture at Berkeley. Henri Bergson ([13.15], 257) remarked on the Kantianism of James’s doctrines in an introduction to a French translation of James’s Pragmatism published in 1911. 4 See Peirce ([13.36], 6:182–4) for a moving tribute to James. 5 Dewey [13.33] recommended ‘warranted assertibility’ instead of ‘truth’. 6 Dewey ([13.18], 330) expressed frustration with this common misunderstanding. ‘No misconception of the instrumental logic has been more persistent than the belief that it makes knowledge merely a means to a practical end, or to the satisfaction of practical needs— practical being taken to signify some quite definite utilities of a material or bread-and-butter type…. I again affirm that the term ‘pragmatic’ means only the rule of referring all thinking, all reflective considerations, to consequences for final meaning and test. Nothing is said about the nature of the consequences; they may be aesthetic, or moral, or political, or religious in quality—anything you please.’ 7 Individualism was for Peirce one of the ‘daughters of nominalism’ ([13.36], 8:38). 8 James referred to his thesis in terms of ‘right’ rather than ‘will’ and in various places expressed regret over his choice of title ([13.12], 124; see note to 124.13 on 164). 9 Russell regarded it as foundation of the pragmatist theory of truth ([13.28], 89–97, 113). Peirce’s complaint ([13.36], 5:3) that James had pushed the pragmatic principle to unwelcome extremes mentioned this article together with the Berkeley lecture. 10 James places this latter claim within an objection to Pascal and to the idea of exercising volitional control over our beliefs. He thus did not immediately endorse it, but he did nothing to rebut the claim that, without a pre-existing tendency, masses and holy water will do nothing to ‘stupefy [one’s] scruples’ as Pascal was quoted as saying ([13.3], 6). Later James credited Pascal’s argument with being ‘a regular clincher, and…the last stroke needed to make our faith in masses and holy water complete’ (11, emphasis added). 11 E.g. in the Berkeley lecture ([13.11, 430ff.), in a chapter of Pragmatism ([13.12, 63ff.) and in a chapter of the book Some Problems of Philosophy, on which he was at work when he died in 1910 ([13.13], 61ff.). 12 Peirce’s earliest published work had begun with a rejection of Cartesianism epistemology and all of those, who subsequently enlisted under the banner of pragmatism, who repudiated Cartesian dualism. For James’s doctrine of ‘neutral monism’, his doctrine of a ‘primal stuff’ consisting of ‘pure experience’, see [13.10], chapters 1 and 2. 13 The New Realist manifesto and Dewey’s dispute with a representative of the group are reprinted in [13.34]. More recent articulations of the presuppositions are to be found in [13.38], chapter 2 and [13.35], chapters 1, 2, 6 and 8. 14 During the period between receiving his medical degree and beginning his teaching career James suffered from severe depression in which determinism appeared to him a very real threat to his moral interests. His diary for 30 April 1870 records how he was helped over this crisis by reading the French philosopher Charles Renouvier and also records a resolve which sheds light on his doctrine of a will/right to believe, ‘My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will’ ([13.25, 43). BIBLIOGRAPHY Major works published by James 13.1 The Principles of Psychology, 2 vols, New York: Henry Holt, 1890; reprint New York: Dover, 1950. 13.2 Psychology (Briefer Course), New York: Henry Holt, 1892. 13.3 The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, New York: Longmans, Green, 1897; reprint with [13.4] New York: Dover, 1956. 13.4 Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1898. 13.5 The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, New York: Longmans, Green, 1902. 13.6 Pragmatism: A New Name for some Old Ways of Thinking, New York: Longmans, Green, 1907; reprint with [13.7] as [13.12]. 13.7 The Meaning of Truth: A Sequel to ‘Pragmatism’, New York: Longmans Green, 1909. 13.8 A Pluralistic Universe, New York: Longmans, Green, 1909. Works by James published posthumously 13.9 Some Problems of Philosophy, edited by Horace M.Kallen, New York: Longmans, Green, 1911, reprint as [13.13]. 13.10 Essays in Radical Empiricism, ed. R.B.Perry, New York: Longmans, Green, 1912. 13.11 Collected Essays and Reviews, ed. R.B.Perry, New York: Longmans, Green, 1920. A complete edition of the works of William James edited by F.Burkhardt, F. Bowers and I.K.Skrupskelis, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, includes 13.12 Pragmatism and the Meaning of Truth, 1975. 13.13 Some Problems of Philosophy, 1979. Works about James 13.14 Ayer, A.J. The Origins of Pragmatism, London: Macmillan, 1968. 13.15 Bergson, H. ‘On the Pragmatism of William James: Truth and Reality’, in Creative Mind, trans. M.L.Andison, New York: Philosophical Library, 1946:246–60. 13.16 Bird, G. William James, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. 13.17 Bradley, F.H. ‘Truth and Practice’, ‘Truth and Copying’, ‘On the Ambiguity of Pragmatism’, ‘On Professor James’s “Meaning of Truth”’ and ‘On Professor James’s “Radical Empiricism”’, in Essays on Truth and Reality, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 15 For an example of such a reading of the continuity of the tradition see Murphy, [13.24]. This posthumously published textbook was seen through the press by Richard Rorty, who has been the prime mover behind the respectability which pragmatism has recently re-acquired. See [13.37]. 1914:65–158. 13.18 Dewey, J. ‘What Pragmatism Means by Practical’, in Essays in Experimental Logic, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1916:303–34; reprint New York: Dover, n.d. 13.19 Fisch, M.H. ‘American Pragmatism Before and After 1898’, Peirce Semeiotic and Pragmatism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986: 283–304. 13.20 Haack, S. ‘The Pragmatist Theory of Truth’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 27 (1976):231–49. 13.21——‘Can James’s Theory of Truth be Made More Satisfactory?’, Transactions of the Charles S.Peirce Society, 20 (3) (1984):269–78. 13.22 Kuklick, B. The Rise of American Philosophy, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977, chapters 9, 14–17. 13.23 Moore, G.E. ‘William James’ “Pragmatism”’, in Philosophical Studies, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1922:97–146. 13.24 Murphy, J.P. Pragmatism: From Peirce to Davidson, Boulder: Westview Press , 1990:39–58. 13.25 Myers, G.E. William James: His Life and Thought, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. 13.26 Perry, R.B. The Thought and Character of William James, 2 vols, Boston: Little, Brown, 1935. 13.27 Royce, J. ‘William James and the Philosophy of Life’, The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, vol. 1, ed. J.J.McDermott, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969:205–22. 13.28 Russell, B. ‘Pragmatism’ and ‘William James’s Conception of Truth’, in Philosophical Essays, London: Allen & Unwin, 1910:87–149. 13.29 Santayana, G. ‘William James’, Character and Opinion in the United States, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920:64–96. 13.30 Scheffler, I. Four Pragmatists, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974: 95–146. 13.31 Smith, J.E. Purpose and Thought: The Meaning of Pragmatism, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. 13.32 Thayer, H.S. Meaning and Action: A Critical History of Pragmatism, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968:133–59. Other works cited 13.33 Dewey, J. Logic: the Theory of Inquiry, New York: Henry Holt, 1938. 13.34——John Dewey: The Middle Works, 1899–1924, vol. 6, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978. 13.35 Nagel, T. The View From Nowhere, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. 13.36 Peirce, C.S. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, 8 vols, ed by C. Hartshorne and P.Weiss, vol. 2 (1932), vol. 5 (1934), vol. 6 (1935); and ed. A.W.Burks, vol. 8 (1958), Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. (References to this edition are given by volume and paragraph number.) 13.37 Rorty, R. Consequences of Pragmatism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982. 13.38 Williams, B. Descartes: the Project of Pure Inquiry, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978.

Routledge History of Philosophy. . 2005.

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  • James,William — James, William. 1842 1910. American psychologist and philosopher. A founder of pragmatism and functionalism, he developed an approach to intellectual issues that greatly influenced American thought. His works include The Principles of Psychology… …   Universalium

  • James, William — born Jan. 11, 1842, New York, N.Y., U.S. died Aug. 26, 1910, Chocorua, N.H. U.S. philosopher and psychologist. Son of the philosophical writer Henry James (1811–82) and brother of the novelist Henry James, he studied medicine at Harvard, where he …   Universalium

  • James, William — (1842 1910)    An American psychologist philosopher and brother to novelist Henry, William James did his early work primarily in psychology, culminating in The Principles of Psychology (1890). Following C. S. Peirce, James is also known for his… …   Christian Philosophy

  • James, William — (1842–1910)    Philosopher.    James grew up in a Swedenborgian household and was a brother of the novelist Henry James. For most of his career he taught at the University of Harvard. He is remembered for his writings, which included The… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • James, William — ► (1842 1910) Filósofo y psicólogo estadounidense. Coautor con Lange de la famosa teoría periférica de las emociones («no lloramos porque estamos tristes, sino que estamos tristes porque lloramos»). Es el creador del pragmatismo. * * * (11 ene.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • James, William — (1842–1910) American psychologist and philosopher. James was born into a wealthy New York family, and surrounded from an early age by a humanitarian, literary, and scholarly family life (his father was a theologian, and his brother the novelist… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • JAMES, William — (1842 1910)    Brother of the American novelist Henry JAMES (1843 1916) whose Father was a SWEDENBORGIAN theologian. James was successively professor of psychology (1889 1897) and philosophy (1897 1907) at Harvard University. His book The… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • James, William — (1842 1910) An American philosopher of the pragmatist school, notable mainly for his unusual accomplishment in significantly influencing the development both of neo positivism and symbolic interactionism , via his view that the empirical… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • James, William —    LL.D., etc. (b. 1842)    Psychologist. Principles of Psychology (1890), Human Immortality (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), Pragmatism (1907), and The Meaning of Truth (1909) …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • James William Lowther — James Lowther James William Lowther, 1. Viscount Ullswater (* 1. April 1855; † 27. März 1949) war ein britischer Politiker der Liberal Party und Sprecher des Unterhauses (House of Commons) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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