Jonathan Edwards, the first great American philosopher, interpreted Calvinist
theology within the newer framework of Newtonian physics and Lockean empiricism
in his Freedom of the Will (1754), but was all but forgotten by
the end of the 18th century, when political rather than theological issues
held center stage. In the years leading up to the American Revolution,
the moral sense theory of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson,Lockean liberalism,
and classical republican theory all contributed to
the thought of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others who saw themselves as parties to a contract with a monarch, defenders of the rights of man, and members of a new and virtuous republic.
the early 19th century, Scottish common sense realism prevailed in the
universities, but the most original and influential
philosophical writing came from the communities of the transcendentalists. Emerson and Thoreau developed philosophies of life, language, knowledge and being in writings drawing on the Greek and Roman classics, English and German Romanticism, Christianity, and non-Western thought. After the Civil War, a series of clubs in the East and Midwest, and the new Journal of
Speculative Philosophy made Hegel more accessible to Americans; while in Cambridge, Massachusetts the 'Metaphysical Club' of William James,Charles Peirce, Chauncey Wright and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. became the
birthplace of pragmatism.
last quarter of the 19th century saw the professionalization of American
philosophy: new graduate departments at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, professional
journals, and state supported universities in the Midwest building non-denominational
departments of philosophy. By the end of the century, James had published
his vast Principles of Psychology and
enunciated a version of pragmatism; Peirce had produced an outpouring of writing on pragmatism, scientific method, logic, semiotic, and metaphysics; and Josiah Royce and John Dewey were launched on influential academic careers.
1 Colonial America
2 19th Century Philosophy
3 Classical American Philosophy
1 Colonial and Revolutionary America
early Puritan communities were sustained by an intense and continuous involvement
with abstract ideas. To the Harvard undergraduate studying Ramus's
as to the townsman poring over Calvin's
Institutes, questions concerning conversion and sanctification were understood to lie at the heart of New England covenant theology, and these in turn were inseparable from a set of problems in what we should now call epistemology, ontology, and ethics or moral psychology.
the immediate background of New England Puritan divinity lay an unstable
synthesis of medieval scholasticism and Calvinist theology, with what Calvin
himself called the "awful decree" of predestination at its center.
This synthesis would be exploded by Newton's Principia and Locke's
Concerning the Human Understanding, the two works
together being taken in England's American colonies, as in England and Europe, as heralding the advent of a New Science and a new philosophical empiricism.
great monument of the encounter between covenant theology and the new empiricism
is Jonathan Edwards's Freedom of the Will (1754), deservedly famous
for its apparently effortless reinterpretation of Calvinist doctrine within
the newer framework of Newtonian physics--especially the new atomic or
"corpuscular" theory of matter--and
Lockean sensationalism. This was the first significant work of philosophy produced in America, and the first American work in any category to have an important influence on European thought. Yet though certain elements of his metaphysics were absorbed into Concord Transcendentalism, Edwards would otherwise by the end of the eighteenth century be virtually extinct as an influence in American philosophy.
After Edwards, 'abstract' discourse
in America--that is, discourse concerned with ideas and principles--shifts
from a theological to a political register, as it does also in Europe (e.
g., in Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes or Voltaire's Lettres
In European political theory, a new sense of cultural relativity or 'climate of contingency' is reflected in the contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau: consent is the necessary basis for the polity; and the particular form of a society may vary according to cultural and historical contingencies. According to 'Lockean liberal' interpretations of the political philosophy of the Founders (Hartz, Boorstin), the Continental Congress applied the principles of Locke's Two Treatises on Civil Government to their own case in declaring their independence from Britain: the monarch had violated his contract with the people, so the arrangement between them was dissolved. The Federalist Papers (1787--8) of John Madison and Alexander Hamilton (with some assistance from John Jay) constitute an extraordinary intervention of philosophy in the historical process, for they were written for a New York newspaper in the period when the Constitution was being voted on in the state legislatures.
In the background of this and other American political documents of the late 18th century lies a sea of European ideas and their American inflections, including not just Lockean liberalism, but the moral sense theory of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) and Hutcheson (1694-1746), and classical republican theory (deriving ultimately from Aristotle and Polybius via Machiavelli, Montesquieu and the English 'Country party' (Bailyn, Pocock, Dowling). Classical republican theory, with its vocabulary of 'luxury' and 'corruption' as opposed to 'virtue,' allowed the American colonists to think of themselves as returning to something like the 'virtuous' state of ancient Rome. Moral sense theory provided an idea central to many revolutionary documents: that all human beings are possessed of a 'moral sense' that discerns right from wrong in the same way as the ear hears a dissonance in music (Wills). It was in fact the transmutation of moral sense theory into the common sense epistemology of Thomas Reid (1710-96), Dugald Stuart (1753-1828) and Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856) that became the dominant philosophy taught at American universities from the late 18th century onward through much of the 19th century. These writers offered a defense of direct perception against the skepticism of Hume that, in the hands of such teachers as John Witherspoon of Princeton (appointed in 1766), or Levi Hedge, the first professor of philosophy at Harvard (1792), could be seen as "deist" or "Christian." God created a material world, these writers held, which we by our ingenuity and careful observation can know and improve. Witherspoon was a conservative Scottish presbyterian who became a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He taught that moral questions could be investigated scientifically, and argued against radical scepticism on the ground that we know our experiential errors by means of other experiences. His Lectures on Moral Philosophy and Eloquence (1800) became a standard college text. Scots common sense theory helped make empiricism and science orthodox within the universities, while in its realism and insistence that relations are perceived, it anticipated doctrines of Peirce and James.
2 19th Century Philosophy
The most original and influential early nineteenth century philosophical writers arose not in the universities, however, but among the Concord Transcendentalists, who include Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), Frederic Henry Hedge (1805-90), George Ripley (1802-80), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), Margaret Fuller (1810-50), and Henry David Thoreau (1817-62). Among these, Emerson and Thoreau stand out for the their power as writers, and for their influence on such subsequent philosophers as James, Dewey, Nietzsche, and Ghandi. Emerson, the fifth in a line of Unitarian ministers, resigned his post at the Second Unitarian Church of Boston in 1832, set out on a journey to Europe, and returned the next year to begin a highly visible career as a lecturer and writer. Emerson's sources include the classical philosophy he studied at Harvard, English and German Romantic poetry and philosophy, Hinduism and other non-Western philosophies and, of course, Christianity. Emerson's first book, Nature calls for a new, 'original relation to the universe'. (Emerson, 1836: 7). His controversial 'Divinity School Address' (1838) condemns the 'Monster' of historical Christianity and urges the divinity graduates to find their own original natures, without which they can offer nothing to others. One makes the most sense to others, Emerson holds, by diving deeply into one's own heart. Emerson's First Series (1841) and Second Series (1844) of essays offer striking aphorisms and powerful paragraphs advocating a life of "self-reliance," expanding "circles," deep-seeing "intellect," and balanced "experience." Representative Men (1850) and The Conduct of Life (1860) are important later works.
Thoreau's masterpiece Walden (1854) records his life in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts from July 4, 1845 to September 6, 1847. Thoreau thought of philosophy as a practice: a life of 'simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust' (1854: 15). Walden is a record of that practice, and a series of reflections on nature and human life. Thoreau finds the mass of men and women living 'lives of quiet desperation' (1854: 8), driving themselves like slaves. In Walden's long opening chapter on Economy, Thoreau construes his life at Walden as an 'experiment' to show how little is really necessary for life, and, by contrast, how needlessly complex most people's lives happen to be. Later chapters blend descriptions of Walden Pond with reflections on the peculiar power of literature--'the work of art nearest to life itself', (1854: 102), on reading, vegetarianism, spring, ice, living in the present, and neighborliness. Thoreau's other works include his essays "Walking" (1862), and the influential "Civil Disobedience" (1849).
After the Civil War, two of the many philosophical clubs scattered throughout the east and midwest America played a special role in the development of American philosophy. The 'St. Louis Hegelians' were led by William Torrey Harris (1835-1909) and Hans Conrad Brokmeyer (1826-1906). Brokmeyer emigrated to the U. S. from Prussia in 1844, practiced law, and eventually became lietenenant governor of Missouri. A leader in the German community, he worked on a translation of Hegel's Logic, which circulated in manuscript. Harris, a native of Connecticut who left Yale in his junior year, taught school in St. Louis and eventually became United States Commissioner of Education. He studied Bronson Alcott and Emerson, Goethe and Victor Cousin; with Brokmeyer, he founded the St. Louis Philosophical Club in 1866 and The Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1867. The latter was the first technical philosophical journal in America or England, and published papers not only by American and English Hegelians such as Harris and Edward Caird, but by Peirce, Dewey, and William James (parts of The Principles of Psychology were first published in the journal). A few weeks of joint philosophical efforts amongst the midwest and eastern "idealists" and the university professors of philosophy occurred during the summers of 1879-83, when the Concord School, founded by Emerson and Alcott, enlisted Harris, William James, Benjamin Peirce (Charles's father, a Harvard professor of mathematics), James McCosh (last of the Princeton Scottish realists), George Sylvester Morris (the Hegelian teacher of Dewey and Royce at Hopkins), and Emerson himself as lecturers.
The Cambridge Metaphysical club had its origins in James's 1868 proposal to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935) that they establish 'a philosophical society to have regular meetings and discuss none but the very tallest and broadest questions' (Kuklick 1974: 47). Underway by 1871, the club centered around six men, all with Harvard degrees: James and Holmes, Charles Peirce (1839-1914), Chauncey Wright (1830-75), Nicholas St. John Green, and Joseph Bangs Warner. Green, a Boston attorney, introduced the thought of the British psychologist and philosopher Alexander Bain (1818-1903) to the group, particularly his definition of belief as 'that upon which a man is prepared to act.' Wright was a mathematician employed by the Nautical Almanac as a 'calculator', and an occasional lecturer in psychology and physics at Harvard. He applied Darwin's evolutionary theory to the development of consciousness in such publications as 'Evolution of Consciousness (1873), where he maintains that consciousness comes about not from any new capacity but from using an old capacity--forming images--in a new way.
3 Classical American Philosophy
Although Wright was regarded as the leader of the Metaphysical Club, Peirce and then James proved to be its most significant members. Charles Peirce seemed destined for intellectual achievement from an early age, and he began publishing papers on logic and semiotics in the 1860s. 'Some Consequences of Four Incapacities' (1868) contains the first published statement of his view that all thought is in signs, and 'On a New List of Categories' (1867) a first statement of his categorial scheme. Peirce presented what came to be called 'the pragmatic maxim' to the Metaphysical Club in an 1872 version of his paper 'How to Make Our Ideas Clear'(1878: 132): 'Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearing, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.' In 'The Fixation of Belief' (1877) Peirce considers four ways in which we come to form beliefs: by authority, tenacity (holding on to the beliefs one already has), rationality, or science. Only science, Peirce argues, has the integrity that comes from allowing itself to be determined by 'some external permanency; by something upon which our thinking has no effect.' (Peirce, 1877: 120). Peirce worked at the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in the 60s and 70s, and was appointed to a lectureship in logic in the new Graduate School at Johns Hopkins in 1879; but he was dismissed in 1884, and, despite occasional lectures at Harvard arranged by William James, never taught regularly again. In a series of papers in The Monist in the early nineties, he developed a system of metaphysics according to which absolute chance operates in the universe, but so does 'evolutionary love'; and matter is 'effete mind.' Central to Peirce's many writings was the idea of three categories, Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. He held that all signs are 'thirds': besides a purely linguistic element and an object of reference, they contain an irreducible element of interpretation.
James studied chemistry in the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard in the 1860s, and biology with Louis Agassiz (including 15 months in Brazil), receiving his degree in medicine in 1869. He began teaching anatomy and physiology in 1872, and became an assistant professor of psychology in 1875, when he established the first psychological laboratory in America. James's earliest publications did not report research in physiology or the new psychophysics however, but were a series of critiques of books on science, philosophy, and culture. He argues in 'The Sentiment of Rationality' (1879), for example, that reason is a passion, and in 'Remarks on Spencer's Definition of Mind as Correspondence' (1878) he anticipates the voluntaristic pragmatism of his later works: 'the knower is not simply a mirror floating with no foot-hold anywhere, and passively reflecting an order that he comes upon and finds simply existing. The knower is an actor, and co-efficient of the truth on one side, whilst on the other he registers the truth which he helps to create.' (James, 1978: 21)
James's masterpiece, The Principles of Psychology (1890) gathers and integrates his writings of the seventies and eighties in a thousand page work of physiology, psychology, and philosophy. The book became a standard text in newly established psychology programs (especially in its shortened form), and influenced philosophers as diverse as Edmund Husserl (by its phenomenological description) and Bertrand Russell (by its distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and by description.) James introduces the ideas of the stream of thought and the 'vague' or 'fringe' areas of consciousness, in opposition to the discrete atomic sensations of traditional British empiricism. He stresses the importance of attention and habit in our mental life, and offers a theory of the emotions as responses to, rather than causes of, emotional behavior. James's moral outlook appears throughout the Principles and indeed throughout his philosophy, but is particularly explicit and prominent in the collections of papers, some from as early as the 1870s, that he published as The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1896). Although he credited Peirce with originating pragmatism, a lecture James gave at Berkeley in 1898, 'Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results,' contains the first published use of the term. Pragmatism, for James, is the view that 'the effective meaning of any philosophic proposition can always be brought down to some particular consequence, in our future practical experience, whether active or passive...' (James, 1975: 259). He credits 'English-speaking philosophers' such as Locke and Berkeley with introducing the pragmatic 'custom of interpreting the meaning of conceptions by asking what difference they make for life,' as Berkeley did when he found the 'cash-value' of matter to lie solely in our sensations. (James, 1975: 268).
Josiah Royce (1855-1916) was raised in the California goldrush town of Grass Mountain, studied English at the University of California at Berkeley and philosophy in Germany. At Johns Hopkins from 1876-8, he studied with George Sylvester Morris, a scholar of German philosophy and a proponent T. H. Green. Receiving his Ph. D. in 1878, Royce taught English at Berkeley, then philosophy at Harvard, where he became a mainstay of the department. Royce introduced formal logic into the curriculum, and was a respected idealist opponent of James's more naturalistic, open-ended pragmatism. Royce's early philosophical writing is in accord with his lifelong interests both in the history of philosophy, and in developing his own version of metaphysical idealism. His first book,The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885) argues for an Absolute Mind that contains all thoughts and their objects. In The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures (1892), Royce traces 'the rediscovery of the inner life' from Spinoza to Kant, with special emphasis on Fichte--praised for his 'beautiful waywardness,' the Romantic School, including Goethe, Novalis, and Schelling, and Hegel. Royce argues, however, that the inner life is essentially public: that we live in our coherence or relationships with other people.
The third great pragmatist to emerge in the late nineteenth century, John Dewey had neither the scientific background of Peirce and James, nor their association with Harvard. Dewey attended the University of Vermont in his home town of Burlington from 1875--9. He studied not only the Scottish school but Kant and Hegel with the university's philosophy professor, H. A. P. Torrey (1837-1902). According to his own testimony, Dewey found in Hegel's philosophy 'an immense release, a liberation' from a sense of divisions between self and world, soul and body, nature and God (Dewey, 1930:153). Enrolling in the new graduate school at Johns Hopkins in 1882, he studied Hegel and Green with Morris, logic with Charles Peirce, and the newly emerging experimental psychology with G. Stanlely Hall (1844-1924). He was appointed to a post at the University of Michigan in 1884, and taught there, with the exception of a year at Minnesota, till 1894, when he began teaching at the University of Chicago.
Dewey's early papers argue for a reconciliation of Darwinism, Hegelian idealism, and religion. Intelligence, Dewey asserts, is latent in evolving matter. In the nineties Dewey called his synthesis of Hegelianism and science 'experimental idealism,' but he gradually moved--as he says in the title of his autobiography--'from absolutism to experimentalism'. Dewey's paper 'The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology' (1896), presages his future instrumentalism and pragmatism in its attacks on the prevailing stimulus-response theory, which Dewey sees as preserving a sharp metaphysical and epistemological distinction between sensory stimulation and motor response. Stimulus and response are, Dewey argues, aspects of a basic 'sensorimotor co-ordination,' a 'circuit' or 'continual reconstitution.' The sensorimotor coordination, like Dewey's later 'problem situation,' shares with Hegelian logic the idea of a progression of temporally evolving wholes. Dewey's educational philosophy also took shape in the 1890s, when he was a professor not only of philosophy, but of psychology and pedagogy. He worked with high school faculty in Michigan, and with the Laboratory School at Chicago. In 'Interest in Relation to the Training of the Will', Dewey argues that because interest is a complex of felt worth and incipient action, when we are genuinely interested in something, we don't have to will to do it. Only through such genuine interest, which 'marks the annihilation of the distance between the person and the materials and results of his action,' can the will be effectively trained (Dewey 1896: 122). In 'My Pedagogic Creed' (1897), Dewey maintains that education is 'a process of living and not a preparation for future living,' and that therefore it must seek 'forms of life that are worth living for their own sake' (Dewey 1897: 87).
List of works
* Calvin, J. Institutes of the Christian Religion,
Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1975. (Mainly important in the Puritan colonies
for its relentless insistence on the doctrines of absolute divine sovereignty,
predestination, and grace.)
Dewey, J. (1969--90) The Early Works of John Dewey, 1882--1898; The Middle Work of John Dewey, 1899-1924; and The Later Work of John Dewey, 1925--1953, ed. J. A. Boydston, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 37 vols. (Standard edition of Dewey's writings.)
------(1887) Psychology. (Dewey's text draws on Helmholz, Wundt, Lotze, Herbart, Bain, Spencer, James, Hall, and others in a defense of idealism; criticized by James and others for its Hegelianism, it was eclipsed 3 years later by the publication of James's The Principles of Psychology. Contained in Early Works 2.)
------(1890) 'Poetry and Philosophy'. (The Romantic early Dewey, addressing the graduates of Smith College, contained in Early Works 3: 110-24.)
*------(1896) 'The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology', Psychological Review 3: 357--70). (Important transitional work between Dewey's early Hegelianism and his later experimentalism and pragmatism, contained in Early Works 5: 96--109.) *------(1896) 'Interest in Relation to the Training of the Will', Second Supplement to the First Yearbook of the National Herbart Society, 209--46. (Dewey's revolutionary educational philosophy, contained in Early Works 5: 111--150.) *------(1930) 'From Absolutism to Experimentalism'. (Dewey's short but revealing autobiography, contained in Later Works 5: 147-60.)
Edwards, J. (1957--94) The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. P. Miller, P. Ramsey, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. (Standard edition of Edwards's works.)
*------(1957) Freedom of the Will New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. (Edwards's reconciliation of Calvinism and empiricism, originally published in 1754.)
Emerson, R. W. (1971--) The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. R. Spiller et al., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (The new standard edition.)
*-------(1836) Nature, in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Robert Spiller et al, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, vol. 1, 1-45. (Emerson's first book, advocating an 'original relation' to the universe.) -------(1837) 'The American Scholar,' in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 1, ed. Robert Spiller et al, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1971, 52-70. (Emerson calls for active souls rather than slavish scholars or 'bookworms'.) *-------(1838) 'The Divinity School Address,' in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 1 ed. Robert Spiller et al, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1971, 76-93. (A controversial graduation address at Harvard Divinity School, in which Emerson attacks the 'Monster' of institutional Christianity.)
*-------(1841) Essays, First Series, The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Robert Spiller et al, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, vol. 2. (Contains 'Self-Reliance', 'Circles', 'The Over-Soul' and 'Intellect'.)
*--------(1844) Essays, Second Series, in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. R. Spiller et al., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, vol. 3. (Contains 'Experience,' 'The Poet' and 'Nominalist and Realist'.) *---------(1850)Representative Men, in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. R. Spiller et al, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press., vol. 4. (Essays on Montaigne, Plato, Napoleon, and others.)
*------(1860) The Conduct of Life. (Contains 'Fate', 'Power' and 'Illusions'.)
Franklin, B. (1959--) The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. L. Labaree, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, (Collected writings of the printer, scientist and statesman known to his European contemporaries as America's 'first philosopher'.)
*Hamilton, A. (and James Madison) (1787-8), The Federalist Papers. (A defense of the new United States Constitution and the federal government it represents.)
James, W. (1975-88) The Works of William James, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 17 vol. (Contains all of James's previously published works, and other writings.)
*------(1878) 'Remarks on Spencer's Definition of Mind as Correspondence', (First published in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, this essay expresses James's sense that the world we encounter is one to which we contribute. Contained in Essays in Philosophy, in The Works of William James, pp. 7-22.)
*------(1890) The Principles of Psychology, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. (James's greatest work, originally published in 1890, contained in The Works of William James.)
*------(1896) The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (A work predominantly of moral philosophy, containing 'Is Life Worth Living' and 'The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life', but also 'The Sentiment of Rationality', contained in The Works of William James.)
*------(1898) 'Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results' (The first explicit statement of James's pragmatism, a lecture before the Philosophical Union at the University of California at Berkeley, contained in Pragmatism, in The Works of William James, pp. 255-70.)
------(1992--) The Correspondence of William James, ed. I. K. Skrupskelis and E. M. Berkeley, Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 12 vols. projected. (Nearly 7000 letters by James to Peirce, Dewey, Holmes, Royce, Bergson, F. C. S. Schiller and others, with 3 vols. devoted to correspondence with his brother Henry.)
Jefferson, T. (1950--) The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. J. P. Boyd, 16 vols., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Volume 1 contains the Constitution of the State of Virginia and the Declaration of Independence.)
Marsh, J. (1976) Selected Works of James Marsh, 3 vols., intro P. C. Carafiol, Delmar, NY: Scholars Facsimiles and Reprints. (Vol. 1 contains the 1829 edition of S. T. Coleridge's Aids to Reflection, with Marsh's preliminary essay--an important source for Emerson and Dewey.)
Madison, J. (see Hamilton, A.)
*Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, Baron de (1721) Lettres Persanes, Paris: Hachette, 1952; trans. J. Loy, The Persian Letters, New York: Meridian, 1961. (A mock-satiric exercise in what we would now call cultural relativism. Read in England and America as a conclusive dismissal of religious controversy as a source of unnecessary divisiveness and intolerance.) ------(1748) De L'esprit des Lois, Paris: Garnier, 1973; trans. T. Nugent (1949), The Spirit of the Laws, New York: Hafner, 1949. (A vast, unsystematic analysis of an unchanging 'spirit of law' as it may be glimpsed behind various cultural and legal systems, as influenced by climate, history and geography. Its idealization of the early Roman republic had an especially powerful influence in 18th century England and America.)
Peirce, C. S. (1982--) The Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, ed. M. Fisch, C. Kloesel, E. Moore, N. Houser, et. al., Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (The most complete and coherent edition of Peirce's works, expected to run to thirty volumes.
------(1992--4) Houser, N. and Kloesel, C (eds.) The Essential Peirce, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (Two volume edition of Peirce's most important writings.)
*------(1868) 'On a New List of Categories', in The Essential Peirce, 1-10. (The first statement of Peirce's post-Kantian categorial scheme.)
*------(1868) 'Some Consequences of Four Incapacities', in The Essential Peirce, 28-55. (Contains the first published statement of Peirce's view that every thought is a sign.)
*------(1877) 'The Fixation of Belief', in The Essential Peirce, 109-123. (Peirce's defense of the scientific method, the first of a projected series of 6 essays to be called 'Illustrations of the Logic of Science'.)
*------(1878) 'How to Make Our Ideas Clear', in The Essential Peirce, 124-41. (Criticizes the Cartesian doctrine of the clarity of ideas, and introduces the pragmatic maxim.
*Ramus, P. (1555) Dialectica (A synthesis of Aristotelian and 'new' logic that demoted much of classical logic to a merely 'rhetorical' status; profoundly influential on education in the Puritan colonies.)
*Royce, J. (1885) The Religious Aspect of Philosophy, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. (Royce's first systematic work of philosophy, in which he argues for 'Absolute Truth and Absolute Knowledge'.)
*------(1892) The Spirit of Modern Philosophy: An Essay in the Form of Lectures, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. (A discussion of modern philosophy from Descartes and Spinoza through Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schopenhauer, with 'suggestions' of Royce's own doctrines.)
Thoreau, H. D. (1971--) The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (The new standard edition, includes Thoreau's journal and correspondence.)
*-------(1849) 'Resistance to Civil Government,' Reform Papers, ed. W. Glick, in The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 63-90. (Popularly known as 'Civil Disobedience' after the title of an 1866 reprinting. Thoreau maintains that he cannot recognize as his own a government that supports slavery.)
*------- (1854) Walden, ed. J. L. Shanley, in The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Thoreau's masterpiece, it considers writing, nature, knowledge and the self; and the economy of the best human life.)
*------ (1862) 'Walking,' in Walden and Other Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, New York: Random House, 1965, 597-632). (An essay in praise of leisure, sauntering, surprise and wildness.)
*Voltaire (1734), Lettres Philosophiques, Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1964; trans. E. Dilworth (1961) Philosophical Letters, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill. (Mock-satiric account of Voltaire's sojourn in England in the 1720s; idealizes English constitutional liberty and enunciates a 'coded' attack on royalist absolutism in France.)
*Witherspoon, J. (1810), Lectures on Moral Philosophy and Eloquence, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1810. (Posthumous work of influential 18th century Princeton common sense philosopher.)
*Wright, C. (1877) Philosophical Discussions, ed. Charles Eliot Norton; reprint New York: Burt Franklin, 1971. (Contains 'Evolution of Consciousness' (199-266) and other writings on Darwinian theory.)
References and further reading
Appleby, J. (1984) Capitalism and a New Social
Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s, New York: New York University
Press. (Argues that Jeffersonian democracy was the triumph in America of
an economic individualism rooted in the political thought of John Locke.)
*Bailyn, B. (1973) The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. (The book that discovered the roots of Revolutionary thought in 'country ideology'--the local variant of classical republicanism that the colonists imported from England.)
*Boorstin, D. (1964) The Americans: The Colonial Experience, New York: Vintage. (The American Revolution as the ideological triumph of Lockean liberal individualism.)
Cameron, S. (1985). Writing Nature: Henry Thoreau's Journal, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. (A fine literary study, discussing the relation of Thoreau's immense journal to nature, to his audience, and to Walden.)
Cavell, S. (1981) The Senses of Walden, An Expanded Edition, San Francisco: (A pioneering study of Thoreau as a philosopher of language and knowledge. The added essays 'Thinking of Emerson' and 'An Emerson Mood' explore Emerson's epistemology, and his relation to Heidegger.)
------(1988) In Quest of the Ordinary: Lines of Skepticism and Romanticism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Contains 'Being Odd, Getting Even,' an existentialist reading of Emerson's 'Self-Reliance,' and 'The Philosopher in American Life,' discussing the 'repression' of Emerson and Thoreau in accounts of American philosophy and culture.)
------(1990) Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome: The Constitution of Emersonian Perfectionism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. (Moral and political aspects of Emerson's thought.)
Clebsch, W. (1973) American Religious Thought, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. (A readable and sympathetic account, emphasizing continuities amongst Edwards, Emerson, and James.)
Conkin, P. K. (1968) Puritans and Pragmatists: Eight Eminent American Thinkers, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (A fine study of Edwards, Franklin, Adams, Emerson, Peirce, James, Dewey and Santayana by a distinguished historian.)
Coughlan, N. (1975) Young John Dewey, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. (A superb short account of Dewey's development and career to 1894, when he began teaching at the University of Chicago.)
*Dowling, W. C. (1990) Poetry and Ideology in Revolutionary Connecticut, Athens, GA and London: University of Georgia Press. (An excellent survey of relations between classical republican political theory and poetry during the Revolution and early republic.)
Dunn, J. (1969) 'The Politics of Locke in England and America in the Eighteenth Century', in Yolton, J. W., ed., John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 45-80. (First important allegation of Locke's non-importance in 18th century political theory in both England and America.)
Fiering, N. (1981) Moral Philosophy at Seventeenth-Century Harvard. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. (Discusses the yielding of scholastic premises Hutchesonian moral sense theory between 1650 and 1725.) Flower, E, and Murphey, M. G. and Flower, E. (1977) A History of Philosophy in America. 2 vols., New York: Capricorn Books. (Volume one contains important chapters on Jonathan Edwards and the development of Scottish common sense philosophy in the American context. Volume 2 discusses the St. Louis Hegelians, Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, and Dewey.)
Goodman, R. B. (1990) American Philosophy and the Romantic Tradition, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. (Challenges the view that American philosophy originates with the Puritans by considering the influence of Romantic poetry and philosophy on Emerson, James and Dewey.)
-------(1990) 'East-West Philosophy in Nineteenth Century America: Emerson and Hinduism', Journal of the History of Ideas, 1990. (Discussion of Emerson's interest in and use of Hindu texts in such essays as 'Plato, or the Philosopher'.)
Guelzo, A. C. (1989) Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Theological Debate. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. (Summary account of Edwards's New Divinity and its Historiography.)
*Hartz, L. (1955) The Liberal Tradition in American History: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution, New York: Harcourt Brace. (The locus classicus of the 'Lockean liberal' interpretation of the American Revolution.)
Kuklick, B. (1977) The Rise of American Philosophy: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1860-1930. New Haven: Yale University Press. (A history of the great Harvard department of James, Royce, and others; excellent bibliography.)
------(1985) Churchmen and Philosophers. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Traces continuing religious strains in American thought from Edwards through Dewey; contains a bibliographic essay.)
McCoy, D. (1980) The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. (Traces the influence of Rousseau and classical republican political theory on Jefferson's idealized agrarianism.)
Miller, P. (1939) The New England Mind, New York: Macmillan. (A classic account of Covenant theology as it developed in New England between the first and second Puritan generations.)
Perry, R. B. (1935) The Thought and Character of William James, Boston, Little Brown and Company, 2 vols. (An affectionate and philosophically sophisticated account of James and his work; reissued by Vanderbilt University Press in 1995). *Pocock, J. G. A. (1975) The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Magisterial summary of the classical republic political tradition from Aristotle to Jefferson. Claims that English Opposition thought--Bolingbroke, Trenchard and Gordon--, rather than Locke, was the real source of revolutionary theory in the colonies.)
Rockefeller, S. C. (1991) John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism, New York and Oxford: Columbia University Press. (Contains an account of Dewey's early development as a Hegelian idealist and Christian social activist.) Schneider, H. (1963) A History of American Philosophy, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1963). (A classic study, containing a good bibliography of primary sources.)
West, C. The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. (A political and prophetic interpretation of American philosophy, beginning with Emerson.)
*Wills, G. (1978) Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, Garden City, NY: Doubleday. (Scottish moral sense theory as the origin of the language of rights in the American constitution.)
Zuckert, M. (1994) Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. (Reasserts the importance of Locke's influence on American political thought.)
RUSSELL B. GOODMAN