A Natural History of Pragmatism by Joan Richardson

A Natural History of Pragmatism by Joan Richardson

By Joan Richardson

Joan Richardson offers a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the fundamental American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with numerous branches of the normal sciences and lines the improvement of Jamesian pragmatism from the overdue 19th century via modernism, following its pointings into the current. Richardson combines strands from America's spiritual adventure with clinical details to supply interpretations that holiday new floor in literary and cultural historical past. This publication exemplifies the worth of interdisciplinary methods to generating literary feedback. In a chain of hugely unique readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A usual historical past of Pragmatism tracks the interaction of spiritual cause, medical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and ambitious, this groundbreaking publication might be crucial examining for all scholars and students of yank literature.

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15 Glimmerings of this sort of involvement are offered by those moments in our thinking when phrases or lines from texts in which we have become more or less fluent appear, somewhat miraculously – immemorial gesturings pointing the way to the working out of some syntactic/linguistic/grammatical solution to an idea we have trembling in mind which we are attempting to fix for a moment, to mount like a specimen, to communicate. Closer to Edwards’s kind of experience is that of mathematicians and scientists who see the aspect of the universe they are investigating through the sets of equations and formulae they have learned and continue to manipulate, where, in the case of discovery, the shape or movement of the searched-for object or process exists in possibility, in faith, as it were, before it is found in fact, as what Edwards would have called “an actual idea”; the feeling of faith might be said to be, or to derive from, the balancing of the equations, the ground of their being described as pleasure and beauty by those employing them.

Such, somewhat, was the effect of typological tuition. In the case of Edwards, the immersion in texts most significantly extended from the Book of God, the Bible, to the Book of Nature, the latter through his own native interests and through the books he read which opened into his room of the idea. A child of his time, born into the extended present of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, Edwards became as fluent in the languages of Locke and Newton as he was in that of the prophets and apostles, reading and rereading their texts until memory and reflection on them were replaced by perception through them.

The uppourings prompting these plottings are instances of intuition – “hypotheses” in scientific terms. The more complete and complex the fund derived from earlier tuition in the texts or language belonging to a discipline, the greater the possibility of finding “an actual idea” that will confirm the instigating intuition. Fluency in any language comes from constant repetition, a process that begins with conscious reflection. A thought word, phrase, eventually a line, 28 A Natural History of Pragmatism in one’s first language is directed toward the other medium, the language to be acquired; the word or line is bounced back, more or less reflecting the sense of the directed thought, the second language still an opaque medium.

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