By Alexander Livingston
Damn nice Empires! offers a brand new standpoint at the works of William James by means of putting his come across with American imperialism on the heart of his philosophical imaginative and prescient. This publication reconstructs James's missed political suggestion by way of treating his anti-imperialist Nachlass -- his speeches, essays, notes, and correspondence at the usa' annexation of the Philippines -- because the key to unlocking the political value of his celebrated writings on psychology, faith, and philosophy. It indicates how James situated a yearning for authority on the middle of empire as a lifestyle, a yearning he clinically determined and unsettled via his insistence on a latest global with out final foundations. Livingston explores the endurance of political questions in James's significant works, from his writings at the self in The rules of Psychology to the tactic of Pragmatism, the examine of religion and conversion in The types of non secular Experience, and the metaphysical inquiries in A Pluralistic Universe.
Against the traditional view of James as a philosopher who remained silent on questions of politics, this e-book areas him in discussion with a transatlantic critique of modernity, in addition to with champions and critics of yank imperialism, from Theodore Roosevelt to W. E. B. Du Bois, to be able to excavate James's anarchistic political imaginative and prescient. Bringing the heritage of political suggestion into dialog with modern debates in political idea, Damn nice Empires! offers a clean and unique reexamination of the political results of pragmatism as a public philosophy.
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Extra resources for Damn great empires! : William James and the politics of pragmatism
Both are expressions of a craving for authority that lies at the heart of philosophizing itself, a craving whose unavoidable frustration can lead to these two seemingly opposed, but equally dangerous, postures of agency. Beginning with a reading of James’s editorials and correspondence on “bigness,” his neologism for the experience of fluidity and crisis that defined the Gilded Age’s imperial modernity, this chapter reconsiders the ways James’s writings on metaphysics in works such as Pragmatism and A Pluralistic Universe develop and enrich his critique of American modernity and its psychological implications for politics.
Intelligence does not lie in reasserting that truth, however. It is in the art of creating novel truths that elements of the old are drawn on and transformed into something Introduction | 17 18 new. “New truth, is a go-between, a smoother-over of transitions” (P 35). 71 If there is a critical force to pragmatism’s practice-oriented, pluralistic, and redescriptive approach to political theory, there remain dangers as well. Any particular efforts at subversion are only ever experiments in an ongoing process of reciprocal elucidation.
So understood, James’s individualism is intrinsically linked to his moral meliorism. Moral ideals have the force to transform reality when individuals lend their efforts in willing them into existence. “The good is not something to be contemplated, but something to be brought to pass. ”39 Melorism, like his moral philosophy, disciplines militant urges to serve humanitarian ends. 40 Despite these international sympathies, James never lost his first allegiance to America and its founding ideals. His anti-imperialism, like Godkin’s, confronted the nation for its moral failings, but his “Americanism was never seriously shaken… .
Damn great empires! : William James and the politics of pragmatism by Alexander Livingston