Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

William James’s Ethical Republic

William James’s Ethical Republic Trygve Throntveit For William James (1842­1910), all philosophical problems were ultimately ethical. In Pragmatism (1907), James invoked the logical theory of his friend Charles Peirce to argue that the ``meaning'' of any belief consisted solely in ``what conduct it is fitted to produce.'' There was ``no difference in abstract truth,'' he elaborated, ``that doesn't express itself in a difference in concrete fact and in conduct consequent upon that fact, imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere, and somewhen.'' Indeed, James concluded that truth was not just reflected in the consequences of conduct but shaped by them: ``Truth is made,'' he wrote, ``just as health, wealth, and strength are made, in the course of experience.''1 This major thesis of Pragmatism distilled a career spent describing an unfinished world, in which human thoughts and actions made differences for which thinkers and actors were responsible. As early as 1878, James insisted that beliefs imply action to advance goals, creating effects valued in light of those goals. The mind, he reiterated in his 1890 masterpiece The Principles of Psychology, is a ``fighter for ends,'' and thinking, a ``moral act.'' Later, in ``The Will to Believe'' (1896), James argued that when evidence is inconclusive, belief http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Ideas University of Pennsylvania Press

William James’s Ethical Republic

Journal of the History of Ideas , Volume 72 (2) – Apr 21, 2011

Loading next page...
 
/lp/university-of-pennsylvania-press/william-james-s-ethical-republic-s70WBHCzIJ
Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Journal of the History of Ideas
ISSN
1086-3222
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Trygve Throntveit For William James (1842­1910), all philosophical problems were ultimately ethical. In Pragmatism (1907), James invoked the logical theory of his friend Charles Peirce to argue that the ``meaning'' of any belief consisted solely in ``what conduct it is fitted to produce.'' There was ``no difference in abstract truth,'' he elaborated, ``that doesn't express itself in a difference in concrete fact and in conduct consequent upon that fact, imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere, and somewhen.'' Indeed, James concluded that truth was not just reflected in the consequences of conduct but shaped by them: ``Truth is made,'' he wrote, ``just as health, wealth, and strength are made, in the course of experience.''1 This major thesis of Pragmatism distilled a career spent describing an unfinished world, in which human thoughts and actions made differences for which thinkers and actors were responsible. As early as 1878, James insisted that beliefs imply action to advance goals, creating effects valued in light of those goals. The mind, he reiterated in his 1890 masterpiece The Principles of Psychology, is a ``fighter for ends,'' and thinking, a ``moral act.'' Later, in ``The Will to Believe'' (1896), James argued that when evidence is inconclusive, belief

Journal

Journal of the History of IdeasUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Apr 21, 2011

There are no references for this article.