William James On The ‘Automatic, Therapeutic Decision’

In Existential Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom, writing of conscious, directed, self-therapeutic change, writes of the ‘essential’ role of personal decisions and choices in ‘effective’ therapy, and invokes William James‘ five-fold taxonomy of decisions “only two of which, the first and the second, involve “willful” effort”: 1. Reasonable decision. We consider the arguments for and against aContinue reading “William James On The ‘Automatic, Therapeutic Decision’”

On Not Being Anxious About Anxiety

There are two ways in which philosophy can help us with anxiety: a specific doctrine may offer us a prescription for how to rid ourselves of anxiety; and philosophical method—self-introspection and reflective thinking—may help us understand our anxiety better. While fear and worry (and their resultant stresses) are grounded in specific objects and circumstances, ‘anxiety’Continue reading “On Not Being Anxious About Anxiety”

Ayer On Wittgenstein As Pragmatist

In Wittgenstein (Random House, New York, 1985), A. J. Ayer writes: [Wittgenstein] never adopted the phenomenalist thesis that physical theories can be translated into the set of propositions describing the observable states of affairs that would confirm them…he declared the confirmation of a hypothesis is never completed. In the same set of remarks he characterizedContinue reading “Ayer On Wittgenstein As Pragmatist”

The Worst Sentence William James Ever Wrote

I have just concluded, in one of my classes this semester, my teaching of William James‘ classic Pragmatism, a bona fide philosophical classic, one richly repaying close reading and elaboration of its central theses. My admiration for James’ writing and thought continues to grow, even as this semester, I encountered a passage that is remarkably incongruous withContinue reading “The Worst Sentence William James Ever Wrote”

Political Tactics, Antifa, And Punching Nazis

In response to my post ‘Punching Nazis in the Face and Anti-Antifa Critiques‘ a friend of mine offered some critical responses on Facebook; these responses have offered me an opportunity to try to express my original claims more clearly. My responses are below. (Excerpts from my original post are indented in plain text; my friend’sContinue reading “Political Tactics, Antifa, And Punching Nazis”

Nietzsche As Pragmatist

Nietzsche is a pragmatist with strong resonances with the American pragmatists; this is not a new claim. Renè Berthelot, for instance, termed Nietzsche “a German pragmatist” and emphasized the resemblance between Nietzsche’s perspectivism and the pragmatist theory of truth.[1][2] The resemblance between Nietzsche and the American pragmatists [3] is made especial note of in Arthur Danto‘s NietzscheContinue reading “Nietzsche As Pragmatist”

Anticipating Another Encounter With Books And Students

This coming fall semester promises to be a cracker: I have the usual heavy teaching load of three classes (including two four-credit classes whose lectures will be one hundred minutes long, thus making for a very exhausting Monday-Wednesday sequence of teaching running from 9:05 AM to 3:30 PM, with an hour break between the secondContinue reading “Anticipating Another Encounter With Books And Students”

Alasdair MacIntyre On Relativism And The Immigrant

In ‘Relativism, Power, and Philosophy,’ (Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association,Vol. 59, No. 1, September 1985, pp. 5-22) Alasdair MacIntyre writes: ‘Relativism’…names one kind of conclusion to enquiry into a particular class of problems. Those questions arise in the first place for people who live in certain highly specific types of social andContinue reading “Alasdair MacIntyre On Relativism And The Immigrant”

Yertle The Turtle, Cosmological Anti-Foundationalism, And Political Change

Bertrand Russell and William James were informed, in rather arch fashion, we are told, that the solution to the age-old cosmological problem was that it was turtles all the way down. Another no less distinguished philosopher, Theodor Seuss Geisel suggested, however, that the chain of turtles, rather than extending into the deepest recesses of a cosmicContinue reading “Yertle The Turtle, Cosmological Anti-Foundationalism, And Political Change”

William James And The Pre-Raphaelites’ Influence

This morning, for no particular reason, or perhaps because I’ve been reading Becoming William James, Howard Feinstein’s excellent psycho-biography of William James, I posted the following on Facebook: William James was a better, more interesting, writer than Henry James. These are, as my friend Margaret Toth pointed out, “fighting words.” But of course, as IContinue reading “William James And The Pre-Raphaelites’ Influence”