By Joan Richardson
Joan Richardson presents a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the fundamental American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with quite a few branches of the average sciences and lines the improvement of Jamesian pragmatism from the past due 19th century via modernism, following its pointings into the current. Richardson combines strands from America's non secular event with clinical info to supply interpretations that holiday new flooring in literary and cultural background. This booklet exemplifies the worth of interdisciplinary ways to generating literary feedback. In a sequence 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 purpose, clinical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and impressive, this groundbreaking e-book should be crucial studying for all scholars and students of yank literature.
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Additional resources for A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein
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.
Similarly, the conceptual innovations of William James, of Henry James (especially in his late work), of Wallace Stevens and Gertrude Stein – throughout the bodies of their work – reflect “the exquisite environment of fact”46 as it had come to be registered for them on their more and more finely tuned instruments, calibrated by their own reading and experience. For Edwards, as mentioned earlier, the two natural phenomena that most tenaciously held his attention were spiders and light. His fascination began when he was a boy.
My mind was much engaged in it, and had much self-righteous pleasure; and it was my delight to abound in religious duties. I, with some of my schoolmates joined together, and built a booth in a swamp, in a very secret and retired place, for a place of prayer. 47 Suzanne Langer, a student of Whitehead’s, drawing on nineteenth-century language theorists read by Darwin and Emerson, persuasively illustrates that the inciting characteristic of human language is not social intercourse but aesthetic expression: What we should look for is the first indication of symbolic behavior, which is not likely to be anything as specialized, conscious, or rational as the use of a semantic.