Notes on Introduction to Philosophy -- Phil A201

William Jamison - Instructor

Lecture 14

Fourteenth lecture notes for Introduction to Philosophy:

Slide 1:

American Outburst

During the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, there was an outburst and flourishing of philosophic activity in America. The key figures drew upon a variety of European orientations (British empiricism, Kant, Hegel), but an important group emerged which included Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead. Although there were sharp differences in their intellectual backgrounds, philosophic temperaments, training, and interests, nevertheless there were also sufficient "family resemblances" so that they--as well as others--began to think of themselves as constituting a distinctive philosophic movement. William James, a gifted stylist and an immensely popular lecturer, labeled the movement "pragmatism" and acknowledged Peirce as its founder. (Sometimes it is said that pragmatism was born from James's misunderstanding of Peirce.) Peirce was so outraged by James's popularization that he renamed his own doctrine "pragmaticism--a name ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers."

Slide 2:

The word "Pragmatism":

Greek "pragma" = "that which has been done"

Latin "res" = thing

Kant - "relation to some definite human purpose"

Pierce - how knowledge is related to human action

Peirce: foundation is a behavioral semiotic

semiotic - theory of signs - a word's meaning is its use

meaning, logic, rhetoric

pragmatic maxim: meaning is the connection between action and experience

Slide 3:

Charles Sanders Peirce 1839-1914

born Cambridge, Mass.

father, Benjamin, leading mathematician and astronomy at Harvard

graduates from Harvard 1859

Lawrence Scientific School - chemistry 1863 SCL

Next 15 years:

Astronomer - Harvard (measuring light)

Physicist for US Coast and Geodetic Survey (dad)

private philosophical studies

Slide 4:

Charles Sanders Peirce

Lecturer in Logic at Johns Hopkins University

1879 - 1884

Retired to Milford, Pa. 1887 - until 1914

Applying the pragmatic maxim to philosophy is the point of pragmatism as a philosophy


James at Harvard

Dewey at Hopkins


Slide 1:

William James 1842-1910

American Pragmatist

Slide 2:

The Pragmatic Movement in American Philosophy

The Unproblematic: (Traditional view)

prestige of science and scientific method

strength of empiricism

biological evolution

ideals of American Democracy

Peirce - scientist, James - psychology

Mead - sociologist, Dewey - educator

(Peirce - pragmaticism)

(Dewey - intrumentalism)

Slide 3:

William James - Life

Born - New York City

father, Henry James, Sr., - theologian (Swedenborgian - New Jerusalem)

brother Henry James, the great novelist


private schools in US and Europe

Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard

Harvard Medical School - degree in 1869

expedition in Brazil (Teddy R!)

studied physiology in Germany

Slide 4:

William James - Life (cont.)

three years of retirement due to illness

instructor in physiology - Harvard 1872 Professor of psychology and philosophy at Harvard - 1880

1907 highly successful lectures at Columbia University and the University of Oxford

died in Chocorua, New Hampshire, on August 26, 1910

Slide 5:

William James - Philosophy

Principles of Psychology - 1890

he is one of the most influential thinkers of his time - removed psychology from its traditional place as a branch of philosophy and establishing it among the laboratory sciences based on experimental method

"a remarkable parallel obtains between the facts of social evolution on the one hand, and of zoological evolution as expounded by Mr. Darwin on the other."

Slide 6:

William James - Philosophy

social dialectic: is within individuals as much as between individuals; it is at multiple levels simultaneously.

consciousness is nothing other than the subjective experience:"feeling, may be likened to a cross-section of the chain of nervous discharge, ascertaining the links already laid down, and groping among the fresh ends presented to it for the one which seems to fit the case."

Slide 7:

Varieties of Religious Experience

religious experience "testifies that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves and in that union find our greatest peace."

"All that the facts require is that the power should be both other and larger than our conscious selves."


Slide 1:

John Dewey 1859-1952

born in Burlington, Vt.

B.A. degree from the University of Vermont in 1879

Ph.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1884

1884 - 88 University of Michigan

1888 - 89 University of Minnesota

1889 - 94 University of Michigan (Chair)

1894 - 1904 University of Chicago

Slide 2:

John Dewey

1904 until retirement as professor emeritus 1931Columbia University, NY.


Instrumentalism - truth is an instrument used by us to solve our problems. It changes as the problems change. So it has no eternal or transcendental reality.

Warranted assertions

Theory of Inquiry - experience and logic

Organic structures

Slide 3:

John Dewey - major works

Psychology 1887

The School and Society 1899

Democracy and Education 1916

Reconstruction in Philosophy 1920

Human Nature and Conduct 1922

The Quest for Certainty 1929

Art as Experience 1934

Logic: The Theory of Inquiry 1938

Problems of Men 1946

Slide 4:

John Dewey -Theory of Inquiry

Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so determinate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole.

problematic situation - determination of the solution - constituents of situation - possible relevant solution - prediction - test solution - refine solution - retest


Slide 1:

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 - 1951

Born in Vienna

Studied at Linz and Berlin

England - University of Manchester. Trinity College, University of Cambridge Pilot or philosopher?) Bertrand Russell

Tractatus Logico-philosophicus 1921 - the "final solution" to philosophical problems

Activity school - several years teaching elementary school in an Austrian village

Slide 2:

Ludwig Wittgenstein

1929 appointed to the faculty of Trinity College, Cambridge


Philosophical Investigations 1953

Language Games

Blue and Brown Books 1958

colors of his two note books

On Certainty 1969

Slide 3:

Ludwig Wittgenstein - Philosophy


picture theory of meaning

elementary propositions correspond to the world - atomic facts. The world is the totality of these facts. Propositions that picture facts-the propositions of science- are cognitively meaningful.

Vienna Circle

Truth tables

Slide 4:

Ludwig Wittgenstein - Philosophy

Philosophical Investigations

language game

meaning of a proposition must be understood in terms of its context, that is, in terms of the rules of the game of which that proposition is a part

people play different language games



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