Cambridge Pragmatism

Cambridge Pragmatism : From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein

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Cheryl Misak offers a strikingly new view of the development of philosophy in the twentieth century. Pragmatism, the home-grown philosophy of America, thinks of truth not as a static relation between a sentence and the believer-independent world, but rather, a belief that works. The founders of pragmatism, Peirce and James, developed this idea in more (Peirce) and less (James) objective ways.

The standard story of the reception of American pragmatism in England is that Russell and Moore savaged James's theory, and that pragmatism has never fully recovered. An alternative, and underappreciated, story is told here. The brilliant Cambridge mathematician, philosopher and economist, Frank Ramsey, was in the mid-1920s heavily influenced by the almost-unheard-of Peirce and was developing a pragmatist position of great promise. He then transmitted that pragmatism to his friend Wittgenstein,
although had Ramsey lived past the age of 26 to see what Wittgenstein did with that position, Ramsey would not have like what he saw.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 20mm | 518g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 019882260X
  • 9780198822608
  • 871,221

Table of contents

Part I Cambridge, Massachusetts
1: Peirce
2: James
3: Bridges across the Atlantic
Part II Cambridge, England
4: The Anti-Pragmatism of Pre-War Cambridge
5: The Pull of Pragmatism on Russell
6: Ramsey
7: Wittgenstein: Post-Tractatus
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Review quote

Cheryl Misak's Cambridge Pragmatism is a key work for anyone who seeks to gain a deeper understanding of twentieth-century philosophy * Cornelis de Waal, Journal of the History of Philosophy * Cambridge Pragmatism is a significant and much needed text, one that contributes to a new standard story of 20th century philosophy. For those of us raised on some version of the old standard story-and there are lots of us out there-it's an important opportunity not just to reconsider the history of pragmatism and early analytic philosophy, but to reassess our own histories as well. * John Capps, Journal for the History of Analytic Philosophy *
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About Cheryl Misak

Cheryl Misak is Professor of Philosophy, and former Provost, at the University of Toronto. She works on American Pragmatism, ethics, and the philosophy of medicine, and is the author of The American Pragmatists, Truth and the End of Inquiry, Truth, Politics, Morality: Pragmatism and Deliberation, and Verificationism: Its History and Prospects.
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