By Joan Richardson
Joan Richardson offers a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the indispensable American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with a number of branches of the average sciences and strains the advance of Jamesian pragmatism from the overdue 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 floor in literary and cultural background. This publication exemplifies the price of interdisciplinary techniques to generating literary feedback. In a sequence of hugely unique readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A common background of Pragmatism tracks the interaction of non secular rationale, medical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and impressive, this groundbreaking publication might be crucial interpreting for all scholars and students of yankee literature.
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Additional info for A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein
49 More particularly, his reading of Emanuel Swedenborg has not been investigated in this light. Reading the work of each of these “scientists”– as they came to be named in his time – was for Emerson an active exercise of the imagination, an example of an “appetition,” in Whitehead’s terms, a search for what would suffice, resting places for his mind in its yearning for the satisfaction that, in the absence of God, he would call “good,” the adjustment of his “axis of vision”50 to things as they were coming to be known.
This pattern of backtracking in Edwards to retrieve the salient element, which with each return is somewhat qualified with either additions or modifications, is a form of spiralling, a manner of progression identified, significantly, with the fugue in music, most notably in Bach’s “Art of Fugue,”23 and, mathematically, with the Fibonacci Series, the progress of which depends on the internalization of an earlier pattern projected onto what will come next, a pattern which, in fact, describes in its spiralling a pattern we now know to be integral to the information exchange between the generative DNA and messenger-RNA molecules and which has been observed to 32 A Natural History of Pragmatism be at work, as well, in phyllotaxis (maximizing the exposure of leaves to light), in the formation of galaxies, crystals, snowflakes, and other inorganic forms.
Following Emerson, William James offers the next “frontier instance” in the evolution of Pragmatism. It is, of course, impossible to discuss James and Pragmatism without taking into account the work of Peirce, and, indeed, Peirce’s contributions inform the chapter on James. Peirce has not been chosen as a “frontier instance,” however, because, while he certainly did describe throughout his writing the effects of Darwin’s theory on the process of thinking, on the refashioning of logic, on perceptual categories, his concern was not that his texts themselves serve as the corrective lenses through which this new universe of chance could be perceived.