Pragmatism By William James PDF In English

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A New Name For Some Old Ways Of Thigking

I find a fine example of revolt against the airy and shallow optimism of current religious philosophy in a publication of that valiant anarchistic writer Morrison I.

Swift. Mr. Swift’s anarchism goes a little farther than mine does, but I confess that I sympathize a good deal, and some of you, I know, will sympathize heartily with his dissatisfaction with the idealistic optimism now in you.

He begins his pamphlet on Human Submission with a series of city reporter’s items from newspapers (suicides, deaths from starvation, and the like) as specimens of our civilized régime.

For instance: “After trudging through the snow from one end of the city to the other in the vain hope of securing employment,

and with his wife and six children without food and ordered to leave their home in an upper east-side tenement house because of non-payment of rent, John Corcoran, a clerk, today ended his life by drinking carbolic acid.

Corcoran lost his position three weeks ago through illness, and during the period of idleness, his scanty savings disappeared.

Yesterday he obtained work with a gang of city snow-shovelers, but he was too weak from illness and was forced to quit after an hour’s trial with the shovel.

Then the weary task of looking for employment was again resumed. Thoroughly discouraged, Corcoran returned to his home last night to find his wife and children without food and the notice of dispossession on the door. On the following morning, he drank the poison.

“The records of many more such cases lie before me [Mr. Swift goes on]: an encyclopedia might easily be filled with their kind.

These few I cite as an interpretation of the Universe. We are aware of the presence of God in his world,’ says a writer in a recent English review.

[The very presence of ill in the temporal order is the condition of the perfection of the eternal order, writes Professor Royce (The World and the Individual, 11, 385).

The Absolute is the richer for every discord and for all the diversity which it embraces, says F. H. Bradley (Appearance and Reality, 204).

He means that these slain men make the universe richer, and that is philosophy.

But while Professors Royce and Bradley and a whole host of guileless thor roughed thinkers are unveiling Reality and the Absolute and explaining away evil and pain,

this is the condition of the only beings known to us anywhere in the universe with a developed consciousness of what the universe is. What these people experience is Reality.

AuthorWilliam James
Language English
No. of Pages335
PDF Size7.8 MB

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