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Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1913) was the ‘founder of pragmatism’ and the most important and original American philosopher. He called himself a logician, making important contributions to the development of formal logic and to the study of the normative standards we should follow in carrying out inquiries and enhancing our knowledge in science and mathematics. His range was extensive: he founded an developed the discipline of semeiotic, a systematic account of the nature of thought, language, and other kinds of signs, and, as a systematic philosopher, he worked on metaphysics. The first seven ... More

Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1913) was the ‘founder of pragmatism’ and the most important and original American philosopher. He called himself a logician, making important contributions to the development of formal logic and to the study of the normative standards we should follow in carrying out inquiries and enhancing our knowledge in science and mathematics. His range was extensive: he founded an developed the discipline of semeiotic, a systematic account of the nature of thought, language, and other kinds of signs, and, as a systematic philosopher, he worked on metaphysics. The first seven chapters explore the framework of his thought, especially his fallibilism and his rejection of scepticism, and his contributions to the pragmatist understanding of truth and reality. Like Frege and Husserl, among others, Peirce rejected psychologism and used phenomenological foundations to defend the system of categories for a system of category which made a non-psychological logic possible. The final three chapters are concerned with ‘the pragmatic maxim’, a rule for clarifying the contents of concepts and ideas. As well as exploring the content and role of this maxim, we study the different strategies Peirce employed to demonstrate the correctness of this maxim, and thus of pragmatism. As well as studying and evaluating Peirce’s views, the book discusses the relations between the views of Peirce and other pragmatist philosophers such as William James, C. I. Lewis, and Richard Rorty.

Keywords: pragmatism, psychologism, fallibilism, Peirce, logic, perception, truth, reality, abduction, logic

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012Print ISBN-13: 9780199588381
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588381.001.0001

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"It has sometimes crossed my mind that James wanted to be a poet and an artist, and that there lay in him, beneath the ocean of metaphysics, a lost Atlantis of fine arts: and that he really hated philosophy and all its works, and pursued them only as Hercules might spin or as a prince in a fairy tale sorts seeds for an evil dragon, or as anyone might patiently do some careful work for which he had no aptitude."

John J. Chapman, a friend of William James

  Material at this site

  • Chronology and photographs of William James.
  • Introducing The Psychologist Malgré Lui, by Morton Hunt.
  • William James: Our Father Who Begat Us, book chapter by Frank Pajares.
  • First chapter of Linda Simon's Genuine Reality: A Life of William James.
  • William James' Shaky Sojourn in Stanford, a delightful essay by Albert Bandura.
  • Three of his students write their impression of James.
  • James defines Psychology.
  • Passages from William James
    • on the teaching art,
    • on interest,
    • on how an individual settles into a new opinion,
    • on truth (theory, reality),
    • on genius,
    • on memory, and,
    • of course, on habit.
    • Talks to Teachers - chapter by chapter, with comments and notations.
  • A special bit of Jamesian wisdom.
  • William James and Hobbes. Great minds think alike.
  • James, Dewey, beliefs, and knowledge acquisitions - a model.
  • A model of truth and pragmatism.
  • Outline and study guide of "The Self," Chapter 3 from the Principles (Briefer Course).
  • James on the goal of psychology - a modest little slide show.
  • A thought provoking passage on tenderness in education.
  • As William James said . . . a few quotable quotes.
  • Portion of letter from Carl Jung on meeting James.
  • Great Paths Cross: Freud and James at Clark University, 1909 - an article by Robert Simon.
  • A Boy's Recollections of William James, by Sidney Lovett, from the Boston Daily Globe, 1954. Delightful.
  • Study questions used at Emory for Chapter 3 of the Jimmy (The Self).
  • Some excellent advice for professors and researchers.
  • See some of James's sketches. And some sketches of James.
  • Some of James's actual letters.
  • Would you like to see some photos of William James Hall at Harvard University?
  • Or the classes at Emerson Hall where James taught.
  • Courses that William James taught at Harvard.
  • How about William James's autograph?

  Essays, excerpts, letters, and reviews

  • "Address at the Annual Meeting of the New England Anti-Imperialist League." Boston: New England Anti-Imperialist League, 1903.
  • "Are We Automata?" 1872, Mind, 4, 1-22. Also here.
  • "The Chicago School," 1904, Psychological Bulletin, 1, 1-5. Also here and here.
  • "The Consciousness of Lost Limbs," 1887, Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1, 249-258. Also here.
  • The Dilemma of Determinism. [and here, and here as pdf document]
  • "Does Consciousness Exist?" 1904, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1, 477-491. Mirror and here..
  • "The Energies of Men." 1907, Science, N.S. 25 (No. 635), 321-332. [James' Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association.] Also here [from google books] and here.
  • "The Gospel of Relaxation" - Chapter 1 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals.
  • "Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment" 1880, Atlantic Monthly, 46(276), 441-459. From Cornell University Library.
  • "The Hidden Self." 1890, Scribner's Magazine, 7(3). From Cornell University Library. Also here.
  • "Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine." the Ingersall Lecture, 1897. Also here, here, and here.
  • Full text of Human Immortality from Google Book Search.
  • The Letters of William James, Volume 1, from Internet Archive.
  • The Letters of William James, Volume 2, from Internet Archive.
  • Memories and Studies. Seventeen wonderful essays. Published posthumously. From google books. Includes "Louis Agassiz," "Address at the Emerson Centenary in Concord," "Final Impressions of a Psychical Researcher," "The Social Value of the College Bred," "A Pluralistic Mystic," three essays on "The University and the Individual," and others.
  • "The Moral Equivalent of War." Speech given at Stanford University, 1906. Also here and here. And audiobook here.
  • "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings" - Chapter 2 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals. [here from google books]
  • "The Ph.D. Octopus," first published in the Harvard Monthly, March 1903 . Also here.
  • "The Philippine Tangle," Boston Evening Transcript (March 1, 1899). Also here.
  • "Pluralism, Pragmatism, and Instrumental Truth", 1907, from A Pluralistic Universe and Pragmatism.
  • "Rationality, Activity and Faith", 1882, from The Princeton Review, Vol. 2. [also here from google books]
  • "Remarks at the Peace Banquet" given on the closing day of the World Peace Congress, 7 October 1904. Also here and here.
  • "Secretary Taft a Biased Judge," Boston Transcript (May 2, 1904). Also here.
  • "The Sentiment of Rationality," from Mind, Vol 4, 15, pp. 317-346. July 1879.
  • "Social Value of the College-Bred" Adress delivered November, 1907. Also here.
  • Some Problems of Philosophy, 1911, with review by Doug Renselle. [here at google books]
  • "The Stream of Consciousness," 1892, Psychology (chapter XI). Cleveland & New York, World. Mirror.
  • "Subjective Effects of Nitrous Oxide" - essay by James. Also here.
  • "What is an Emotion?" 1884, Mind, 9, 188-205. Also here and here.
  • "What is an Instinct?" 1887, Scribner's Magazine, 1(3), 355-366. From Cornell University Library.
  • "What Makes a Life Significant?" - Chapter 3 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals. [here from google books]
  • "What the Will Effects." 1888, Scribner's Magazine, 3(2), 240-250. From Cornell University Library. Here as a pdf file.
  • "A World of Pure Experience," 1904, Journal of Phil., Psych., and Scientific Methods, 1, 533-543, 561-570. Mirror.
  • James's review of "The Anaesthetic Revelation and the Gist of Philosophy,"Atlantic Monthly, November, 1874.
  • Familiar Letters of William James published by the Atlantic Monthly [subscription required]
    • Volume I - early correspondence.
    • Volume II - written prior to publication of the Principles of Psychology.
    • Volume III - written during the last ten years of James's life.

  From Talks to Teachers

Talks to Teachers in HTML
  • Excerpts and highlights - chapter by chapter, with comments and notations. [pdf document]
  • Excerpts - chapter by chapter. [html]
  • On the role that psychology plays in education.
  • "The Gospel of Relaxation" - Chapter 1 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals.
  • "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings" - Chapter 2 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals.
  • "What Makes a Life Significant?" - Chapter 3 of Talks to Students on Some of Life's Ideals.
  • Full text of Talks to Teachers from the Guttenberg Project. Available as html or txt file.
  • There are also two versions available from google books: here and here.
  • Four of the talks were published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1899. Cornell University provides scans of the original lectures on
  • Editions of TTT: Dover, Arc Manor, Elibron Classics, Dodo, Book Jungle, BiblioBazaar [here in large print], Library of America.
 

  The Principles of Psychology

 

Professor Christopher Green, of York University, has created a Classics in the History of Psychology internet resource site that includes the full text of The Principles of Psychology. The Classics Site has a mirror at Arizona State University that also houses The Principles.

  • Introduction to The Principles, by Robert Wozniak.
  • Commentary on The Stream of Consciousness, by Dr. C. George Boeree.
  • James defines habit in the Manufacturer and Builder, Vol. 19(5), p. 116, May 1887.
  • William James's Narrative of Habit, by Renee Tursi
  • See the Atlantic Monthly's review of the book, published April 1891, Vo. 67(402). From Cornell University Library.
  • Outline and study guide of "The Self," Chapter 3 from the Principles (Briefer Course).
  • Full text of The Principles, from Google Book Search. Monday, June 25, 2007
  • The Rise of Empiricism: William James, T. H. Green, and the Struggle over Psychology, by Alexander Klein, University of Toronto.
    • Alex focuses on the philosophical aspects of the Principles, arguing that during the late 1870-80s, James was engaged in a philosophical struggle over the idea of empirical psychology, and this struggle shaped the work. Klein asks: What evidence is there to support the idea that perceptual experience is fundamentally stream-like rather than atomic?
  • Purchase The Principles.
  • Download the full text of The Principles: The Briefer Course from google books.





  Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking

 

From the Mead Project at Brock University. Transcribed by Lloyd Gordon Ward and Robert Throop. Table of Contents.

About Pragmatism
  • Full text of Pragmatism from the Guttenberg Project. [txt file]
  • Full text of Pragmatism from Wikisource.
  • The Pragmatism Cybrary - the most authorative site on this subject.
  • James's Pragmatism and American Social Thought, 1907-2007, video lecture by James Kloppenberg, Harvard.
  • Early American Pragmatism, by Prof. Paul Redding, University of Sydney. Includes excellent links.
  • What Pragmatism Ain't, delightful essay by Philip Nobel. Also here.
  • American Pragmatism, from the Radical Academy.
  • Pragmatism, excellent entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
  • Notes on the lecture and Essays on Pragmatic Humanism from Prof. J. Wesley Robbins.
  • Swedenborgian Roots of American Pragmatism:The Case of D. T. Suzuki, by Eugene Taylor.
  • Natural Selection, Scientific Method, and Philosophical Populism in William James�s Pragmatism, by Alex Klein.
  • Questions and Commentary from Prof. William O'Meara of James Madison University.

  The Meaning of Truth

 

From the Mead Project at Brock University. Transcribed by Lloyd Gordon Ward and Robert Throop. Table of Contents.




  The Will to Believe

 

  • Complete essay from Marc Fonda.
  • Complete essay from James Madison University.
  • Full text of The Will to Believe, from Google Book Search.
  • The Dilemma of Determinism. [and here, and here as pdf document]
  • The Ethics of Belief, edited by A. J. Burger (also here), includes
  • And see Quotations on the Ethics of Belief by Peter Suber, Philosophy Department, Earlham College
  • Teaching James's "The Will to Believe," by Prof. Guy Axtell, University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Notes from Prof. Robbins, Indiana University.
  • Notes from Prof. Browning at University of Texas, Austin.
  • Notes from Princeton philosophy course.
  • "What is This Place?" William James and Religious Certainty, by Br. Tom.
  • William James and the Logic of Religious Belief, by W. Richard Comstock, 1967.
  • William James, Faith, and the Placebo Effect, by Franklin Miller. [requires edu server]
  • William James's "The Will to Believe" and the Ethics of Self-experimentation, by Jennifer Welchman, University of Alberta.
  • "The Book of James: William James's lectures on religion, a century later," by Joseph Leconte for The Heritage Foundation
  • William James: Still Salient After All These Years.   
  • An outline with commentary provided by Bob Corbett.

 

  Essays in Radical Empiricism

 

From the Mead Project at Brock University. Transcribed by Lloyd Gordon Ward and Robert Throop. Table of Contents.


 

  On The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study of Human Nature

  • Full text of the Varieties from Psych Web by Prof. Michael Nielsen.
  • Full text of the Varieties from the Guttenberg Project.
  • Hypertext Version from American Studies at UVA.
  • Full text of The Varieties of Religious Experience, from Google Book Search.
  • Full text of the Varieties from Wikisource.
  • Lecture Summaries, by John Durhan.
  • Notes from Marc Fonda - Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Commentary on the Varieties, by Carol Zaleski, Smith College.
  • Glyn Hughes' Squashed Version of the Varieties.
  • The Science of Religion, a lecture by Russell McNeil also from Malaspina.
  • James's Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion, delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902, provided by the Council on Spiritual Practices. These lectures comprise the entire text of The Varieties of Religious Experience, but they are nicely organized.
  • The Council on Spiritual Practices offers The William James Awards, Funding for Masters' Theses and Doctoral Dissertations on Primary Religious/Spiritual Experience.
  • A brief commentary by Sandra Stahlman.
  • Introductory lecture to the Varieties by Ian Johnston, Malaspina University.
  • "The Book of James: William James's Lectures on Religion, a Century Later," by Joseph Loconte
  • Robert D. Richardson speaks about James and the Varieties.
  • Twice-born men: A footnote in narrative to Professor William James's "The varieties of religious experience, by Harold Begbie.
  • Conversion. Using violin and electronics, composer Baljinder Sekhon mimics the psychological process described in the Varieties.

  A Pluralistic Universe

  Other sites on the Net related to William James

  • William James entry at Wikipedia - actually very good. And James quotes from Wikiquote.
  • The William James Cybrary, a wonderful new site put together by James Medd.
  • Works by William James available at the Guttenberg Project.
  • William James and Josiah Royce a Century Later: Pragmatism and Idealism in Action. Lowell Lecture Hall, Harvard, May 2007.
  • William James entry from MIT Cognet (excellent site, but requires access through edu server or a subscription).
  • William James, from PBS.
  • James site from Garth Kemerling with excellent links.
  • Episteme has fine links to philosophy-related sites. Here is the link to James.
  • More links, these from Mythos and Logos. These pages are worth checking in case I miss something.
  • William James page from ErraticImpact.com. Check out their Philosophy Research Base.
  • William James page from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Excellent overview.
  • European William James Project, from the Pragmatism Cybrary.
  • William James: Still Salient After All These Years.
  • William James Studies, a new, open-access journal of articles related to the life, work and influence of William James.
  • Search for William James at FindArticles.com.
  • The Philosophy of William James, from The Radical Academy.
  • William James, from Genius in the Family Cameo Biography, PBS.
  • Some quotes by James. No end to them. Ane here is a nice set from the Philosopher's Magazine.
  • William James Award Competition, from APA Eastern Division.
  • The William James Society.
  • A bit macabre, but here is James's tombstone at the Cambridge Cemetery.

  Essays/books about William James

  • A Boy's Recollections of William James, by Sidney Lovett, from the Boston Daily Globe, 1954.
  • The Book of James: William James's lectures on religion, a century later. by Joseph Leconte for The Heritage Foundation
  • Essays philosophical and psychological in honor of William James, by E. L. Thornkike, from Internet Archive.
  • Feeling William James's But, by Mark Johnson, University of Oregon
  • The God of Abraham, Isaac, and (William) James, by David Paulsen
  • Great Paths Cross: Freud and James at Clark University, 1909 - an article by Robert Simon.
  • Mind and Body: Descartes to William James, by Robert Wozniak of Bryn Mawr.
  • Natural Selection, Scientific Method, and Philosophical Populism in William James's Pragmatism, by Alexander Klein.
  • The Nitrous Oxyde Philosopher, by Dmitri Tymozko. Interesting reading.
  • Introduction to The Principles of Psychology, by Robert Wozniak. Mirror here.
  • Oh Those Fabulous James Boys - William and Henry, by Eugene Taylor. Also here.
  • Present Philosophical Tendencies [synopsis of James's philosophy], by Ralph Barton Perry.
  • Pure Experience, the Response to William James: An Introduction, by Eugene Taylor and Robert Wozniak.
  • Realism and Imagination in the Thought of Henry and William James, by Jonathan Levin and Sheldon M. Novick.
  • A Review of James' Some Problems of Philosophy, by Doug Renselle.
  • The Rise of Empiricism: William James, T. H. Green, and the Struggle over Psychology, by Alexander Klein, University of Toronto.
  • Sartre and James on Freedom, by William O'Meara.
  • "Speaking Terms": William James on Intelligence, by Tom Murphy.
  • Tools and Techniques for Teaching James�s The Will to Believe, by Guy Axtell, University of Nevada, Reno
  • "What is This Place?" William James and Religious Certainty, by Tom Murphy.
  • Why William James Still Matters, by Charles Taylor.
  • Wilhelm Wundt and William James, by Dr. C. George Boeree. And see this commentary on The Stream of Consciousness.
  • William James and American Functional Psychology, by Eugene Taylor.
    • Professor Taylor's essay in Spanish.
  • William James and Moral Objectivity, by Ruth Anna Putnam.
  • William James and the NLP Model, by Michael Hall.
  • William James and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Life, by Josiah Royce, from Internet Archive.
  • William James and Rudolph Steiner, by Robert McDermott.
  • William James: Our Father Who Begat Us, by Frank Pajares. [incredibly profound]
  • William James, an obituary published in the Atlantic Monthly by James Jackson Putnam, 1910.
  • William James and the Tradition of American Public Philosophers, by Cushing Strout, for the Partisan Review.
  • William James et la psychologie exp�rimentale, by Vincent Guillin (in French).
  • William James on an Unseen Order, by Wayne Proudfoot, from Harvard Theological Review. Is the universe moral or unmoral?
  • William James's Narrative of Habit, by Renee Tursi, from findarticles.com. [may require edu domain access]
  • William James's Selective Individualism, by James O. Pawelski, Albright College.
  • William James' Shaky Sojourn in Stanford, by Albert Bandura, from the APS Observer (scroll down - the page is misaligned).
  • Full text of The Philosophy of William James, by Theodore Flournoy, 1917, from Google Book Search.
  • Full text of Life and Personality of William James, by �mile Boutroux, 1913, from Google Book Search.
  • Full text of William James and the Philosophy of Life, by Josiah Royce, 1911, from Google Book Search.

  Bibliographic information

  • Russell McNeil keeps a superb William James Consolidated Database at Malaspina University-College, British Columbia. It includes the Library of Congress Catalog and HTML citations, National Library of Canada Citations, the UK's COPAC citations, and tie-ins to Amazon, Blackwell's, and AAUP. One-stop bibliographic information. Visit their Great Books site.
  • Annotated bibliography of the writings of William James, by Ralph Barton Perry, from Internet Archive.
  • Amazon list of available books about William James.
  • Here is my list of books about James (more carefully alphabetized than Amazon's).
  • William James's papers at Harvard University
  • New books about William James
  • BooksPrice.com, AddAll Book Search and Bublos.com will compare prices of new books. So will DirectTextbook.com.
  • AddAll.com will also compare prices of used books. Excellent. Nope, I don't get a commission. Just trying to be helpful.
  • Book collector or interested in rare books and first editions? Visit the following.
 

  Some Book Reviews

 

Blogs, Discussion Groups, and Chats about William James

  • Yahoo Discussion Group on William James.
  • You can subscribe to an e-mail discussion group on William James by sending an email message to LISTSERV@austincc.edu. In the message, write: SUBSCRIBE WILLIAMJAMES-L [Your-First-Name Last-Name]
  • You can also subscribe to an e-mail discussion group on William, Henry, Alice, and other members of The James Family. To do this, send an e-mail message to: listserv@wvnvm.wvnet.edu. In the message area, write: SUBSCRIBE JAMESF-L [Your-First-Name Last-Name]
    • You will receive instructions about accessing the archive and posting your own messages.
  • The William James Lecture Hall is "devoted to all contemplations, musings, and queries concerning William James." It's a discussion group.
  • Join the William James Live Recitation.
  • Professor Phil Oliver shares his musings on James and others at Delight Springs and Up@Dawn

  Related Links

  Search the Web, Emory University, York University, Brock University, PsychWeb

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