History of  American Philosophy

10:00 - 11:30
Room 5

The course will focus on the classic period in American philosophy (from the Civil War to WW II), but will initially give some attention to thinkers prior to the classic American period, such as Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as Scottish Common Sense Realism.  Particular attention will be given to Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey in their roles as founders and developers of the pragmatic movement, with some attention to Josiah Royce, George Santayana, W.V.O. Quine and Richard Rorty.   Science, methods of knowing, society, individuality, religion and the nature of reality are topics addressed by these thinkers.  Thus special attention will be given to the interaction of these thinkers with their culture, particularly legal, political, scientific, and religious developments.

The schedule of classes, topics and readings is being developed, but one can view what has been developed thus far online.  For the most part, readings available on the internet have been assigned, and links to them have been provided in the schedule. Although no chapters from The Blackwell Guide to American Philosophy, edited by Armen T. Marsoobian and John Ryder (Blackwell Publishing, 2004), have been assigned, they could have been.  Students may want to purchase a copy, but the instructor has eight copies available for student use and plans to work out a method whereby copies can be shared.  Students will need to purchase John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy, but the instructor will make available copies at cost.  Questions should be directed to Michael Eldridge mleldrid@email.uncc.edu.

Requirements for the Course:

Paper on one of the following topics:

The exact focus of the paper is to be worked out with the instructor, and ideas, drafts and notes are to be shared with the instructor during the course of the semester. The instructor will not accept a final version if there have not been preliminary versions and discussions.  The final version is due December 1.

Length: 5 to 8 pages for second and third year students; 10 to 15 pages for fourth and fifth year students.

Final Exam: Oral; two questions: one concerning the paper and one to be chosen at random from the list that will be announced at the end of the course.  If the student does not like his or her first choice, s/he may choose again with a reduction in grade penalty.


Lecture Notes

Week 1 (September 9): Edwards, Santayana and American Philosophy

Week 2 (September 16): Collegiate Philosophy

Week 3 (September 23): American Idealism

Week 4 (September 30): Peirce

Week 5 (October 7): Pragmatism Goes Public

Week 6 (October 14): Pragmatism and truth--not Truths

Week 7 (October 21): James, Humanism and Religion

Week 8 (October 28): Video:  John Dewey: His Life and Work

Week 9 (November 11): Intelligizing Practice

Week 10 (November 18): Dewey, WWI and Social Intelligence

Week 11 (November 25): Pragmatism and Religion

Week 12 (December 2): Realism, Analytic Philosophy and Quine

Week 13 (December 9): Toward Pluralism in American Philosophy

Week 14 (December 16): Pluralism in American Philosophy