A Natural History of Pragmatism by Joan Richardson

By Joan Richardson

Joan Richardson offers a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the imperative American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with a number of branches of the typical 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 non secular adventure with medical info to supply interpretations that holiday new floor in literary and cultural historical past. This e-book exemplifies the price of interdisciplinary methods to generating literary feedback. In a sequence of hugely unique readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A common historical past of Pragmatism tracks the interaction of non secular rationale, clinical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and ambitious, this groundbreaking publication should be crucial examining for all scholars and students of yankee literature.

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27 More recently, George Marsden in his expansive biography of Edwards, commenting on light as his “favorite metaphor,” observes: “No one looked more In Jonathan Edwards’s room of the idea 33 intensely at the biblical meaning of light for his day than did Edwards. For him, light was the most powerful image of how God communicated his love to his creation.

30 A Natural History of Pragmatism In connection with Edwards’s internalizing scientific information into the language of the divine, Janice Knight has observed: Jonathan Edwards claimed that meaningful divine types overflow . . biblical boundaries. ” [Jonathan Edwards, “Notebooks on the Types,” manuscript, Andover Collection, cited in Lowance, Language of Canaan, p. ] Edwards contended, moreover, that God’s extrascriptural communications are neither serendipitous nor occasional. Instead, they are part of a divinely instituted system of symbols that continuously prefigure and communicate the divine presence in nature and in history.

60 The significance of Stein’s work, emphasizing as it does the fact of feeling in relation to a particular time and place, was not lost on the members of the circle. ” Half-way through this imagined adventure, a turn-around offers instead, “his soil is man’s intelligence,” a counter-assertion that will serve as platform for the poet’s later elaborations of the relation between an individual and his moment. Like Emerson, whose collected works were presented to the young Stevens by his mother on the occasion of his Christmas visit back home from Harvard in 1898, Stevens believed that it was incumbent on the poet to study and come to understand as much as possible about the structure of nature insofar as it had come to be known in his time.

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