The Metaphysical Club, a gathering of intellectuals in the 1870s, is widely recognized as the crucible where pragmatism, America’s distinctively original philosophy, was refined and proclaimed. Louis Menand’s bestseller about the group was a dramatic publishing success. However, only three actual members—Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Charles S. Peirce, and William James—appear in the book, alongside other thinkers who were never in the Club. The Real Metaphysical Club tells the full story of how this influential group shifted the course of philosophy in America. In addition to pioneering pragmatism, the group explored radical empiricism and idealism, and formulated personalism and process philosophy, equally important developments. This volume contains the important writings dating from 1870 to 1885 by the real members of the Metaphysical Club. The first section centers on pragmatism and science; the second part collects writings of the lawyers; and the third part covers idealist and personalist philosophers. Many of these writings have never been reprinted before, and nothing like this impressive collection has ever been attempted. A general introduction provides a narrative history, and the editors’ three introductions to the volume’s sections vividly bring to life the intense meetings, sustained debates, and pioneering thought of the Metaphysical Club.
“The Real Metaphysical Club includes some very important thinkers that don’t always make it into anthologies of American philosophy. The period is also important. 1870 to 1885 is critical to the development of classical American philosophy. It precedes it and sets its direction. The book accomplishes its goal of giving the reader a sense of the period by arranging the works in a very interesting way. The readings and introduction are very readable and would be helpful to both graduate and undergraduate students as well as general readers interested in American Thought.” — James M. McLachlan, Western Carolina University