M. Gail Hamner

in American Pragmatism

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155471
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834266 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series


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American pragmatism is about the only philosophical movement indigenous to the U.S.A., but the question of what is American about it has never really received sustained attention. This is what this book sets out to do by means of an analysis of the works of two classical American pragmatists (Charles Sanders Peirce and William James) and their continental interlocutors. In answering the question, the book takes the form of a double project: first, American pragmatism marks a repositioning of British and European science, especially psychology, within theories of human knowing and being that emphasize the purposive and disciplined production of the self through habits (Peirce) or will (James); second, the engine of this repositioning is something the author terms America's slippery but persistent Puritan imaginary. The two aspects of the project come together in narratives about subjectivity (in the final two chapters on Peirce and James), since applying the methods and assumptions of natural science to the human self (in psychology) highlights the limitations and aporias of those methods and principles and, for the early pragmatists at least, underscores the necessity of religion. In addition to explaining the context of the book, this introduction describes its organization, the situation in which the philosophy of American pragmatism developed, and the methodology adopted by the book.

Keywords: American pragmatism; American Puritanism; Europe; habits; history; Charles Sanders Peirce; philosophy; pragmatism; psychology; Puritanism; religion; subjectivity; U.S.A; will

Chapter.  3445 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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