A Natural History of Pragmatism by Joan Richardson

By Joan Richardson

Joan Richardson offers a desirable and compelling account of the emergence of the vital American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with numerous branches of the usual sciences and strains 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 spiritual adventure with medical details to supply interpretations that holiday new flooring in literary and cultural heritage. This publication exemplifies the price of interdisciplinary ways to generating literary feedback. In a chain of hugely unique readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A ordinary background of Pragmatism tracks the interaction of non secular purpose, clinical hypothesis, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and ambitious, this groundbreaking booklet could be crucial examining for all scholars and students of yank literature.

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My chapters are responsive additions to these earlier essential studies. ex perience is in mutation . . 4 5 The facts or natural models imaginatively adopted by Edwards and Emerson were, of course, different, reflecting both what they had each come to Introduction: frontier instances 13 know through direct observation and experience and what they had read. 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.

Stevens came into his maturity as a poet in the years just following Einstein’s discoveries. The impact of these revolutionary descriptions together with the later developments in quantum theory and mechanics persistently engaged his imagination. Particularly taken by the challenges to perception that the work of Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and other quantum theorists presented, Stevens explored the possibility of describing this invisible universe in sentential relationships. Woven into the texture of his poems are experiments mimicking an uncertain universe in uncertainties of predication and meaning.

Lambert Strether, the protagonist of The Ambassadors, is a character stretched while tethered by the crossing experiences of Old World and New. Introduction: frontier instances 19 The novel had remained untitled until James sent the finished manuscript to his agent in July 1901. 58 While there are obvious thematic connections between different aspects of the painting and the novel, as noted by Adeline Tintner – the role of Strether as ambassador, the importance of what French culture represents, the significance of the memento mori device – these are surface details, facets of the poetry of James’s subject, the face of the novel viewed head-on, so to speak.

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