Essays on the Foundations of Ethics

SUNY Press
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 Presentation of C. I. Lewis’s final book, formulating a cognitivistic ethics.
C. I. Lewis, one of America’s greatest philosophers, was tremendously influential in the fields of logic and epistemology. However, it was to ethics that he devoted the last years of his life. His approach to ethics was not merely as an academic pursuit, but as the deepest and most fundamental challenge of human life, older than philosophy itself: how should one respond to the necessity of action, and cope with the imposed, unforgiving imperatives of self-governance? Drawing from volumes of Lewis’s hand-inscribed notes and drafts, John Lange has assembled a version of Lewis’s final book, Essays on the Foundations of Ethics, bringing to light his desire to locate and articulate those moral realities which he found to be part of an enlightened common sense, a common sense to be expected in an evolved, self-governing, rational human nature.
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About the author

 John Lange is Professor of Philosophy at Queens College, City University of New York, and the author of several books, including Philosophy and the Challenge of the Future and The Cognitivity Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Claims of Philosophy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2017
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Pages
265
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ISBN
9781438464947
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Movements / Pragmatism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Metaphysical Club is the winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History.

A riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea -- an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea. Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent -- like knives and forks and microchips -- to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals -- that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely depent -- like germs -- on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea deps not on its immutability but on its adaptability. The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the Civil War and s in 1919 with Justice Holmes's dissenting opinion in the case of U.S. v. Abrams-the basis for the constitutional law of free speech. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about a way of thinking that changed American life.

Taking Emerson as his starting point, Cornel West’s basic task in this ambitious enterprise is to chart the emergence, development, decline, and recent resurgence of American pragmatism. John Dewey is the central figure in West’s pantheon of pragmatists, but he treats as well such varied mid-century representatives of the tradition as Sidney Hook, C. Wright Mills, W. E. B. Du Bois, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lionel Trilling. West’s "genealogy" is, ultimately, a very personal work, for it is imbued throughout with the author’s conviction that a thorough reexamination of American pragmatism may help inspire and instruct contemporary efforts to remake and reform American society and culture.

"West . . . may well be the pre-eminent African American intellectual of our generation."—The Nation

"The American Evasion of Philosophy is a highly intelligent and provocative book. Cornel West gives us illuminating readings of the political thought of Emerson and James; provides a penetrating critical assessment of Dewey, his central figure; and offers a brilliant interpretation—appreciative yet far from uncritical—of the contemporary philosopher and neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty. . . . What shines through, throughout the work, is West's firm commitment to a radical vision of a philosophic discourse as inextricably linked to cultural criticism and political engagement."—Paul S. Boyer, professor emeritus of history, University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Wisconsin Project on American Writers

Frank Lentricchia, General Editor


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