Lecture Course and Metaphysical Club Meeting; 30.5.2008, Helsinki

Meeting 30 May 2008

Professor Douglas Anderson (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale)
gives a lecture course on the Transcendentalist roots of American pragmatism
and the writings of pragmatism's founders, Charles S. Peirce, William James,
and John Dewey. Please find the detailed course description copied below as
well as a list of readings in the attachment.


The lectures take place at the Department of Philosophy, Siltavuorenpenger
20A, sh222, 26-30 May 2008, Mon-Fri every day at 10-12 am and 13-15 pm.
(Please note the change in times since a previous announcement.)


The last course session on 30 May at 13-15 pm will be a meeting of the
Helsinki Metaphysical Club, with discussion on the philosophical
correspondence between Charles Peirce and William James. The discussion will
be followed by a small reception. All are very welcome to attend!


Professor Anderson will also give a talk at the Research Seminar of the
Departments of Philosophy (sh222) on 29 May 2008 at 16-18 pm. Please see the abstract copied below.


For students, using participation in the meetings of the Club and the
Research Seminar as coursework is negotiable.

Henrik Rydenfelt



Prof. Douglas Anderson (Southern Illinois University Carbondale, USA)


Lecture course
26-30.5.2008, Mo-Fri 10-12 and 13-15. Siltavuorenpenger 20A, sh222


Course theme: There have been many recent accounts of R. W. Emerson as a
"pragmatist" or "proto-pragmatist." I think it is more fruitful to explore
the Emersonian and transcendentalist traces left in the work of the early
American pragmatists: Peirce, James, and Dewey. In the course I want to
explore a few of these traces to suggest the larger project that I believe
is available to those interested in pragmatism. James clearly appropriated
features of Emerson's (and his father's) style of philosophy. But he also in
his late work defended something like a pluralistic idealism. Peirce quite
openly aligned himself with Schelling and American transcendentalism. And
Dewey, whose debt to Hegel is explicit, also took up features of the social
projects of the Transcendentalist movement. Though one aim of the course is
historical, it also aims to have a cash value concerning the importance of
philosophy for our present cultures.


Much of what passes for pragmatism on the current scene remains oblivious to
this other side of pragmatism, and this has had consequences for how
pragmatism has been exploited in recent years. If one takes seriously the
pragmatists's commitments to aspects of American transcendentalism, one
arrives at a very different conception of philosophy's tasks than that
currently portrayed in neo-pragmatism. In closing, I want to look briefly at
Russell's and Rorty's accounts of pragmatism, and suggest that they leave us
with an impoversihed account of philosophy (and in Rorty's case a rejection
of philosophy), one that has helped place the humanities on the endangered
species list in many twenty-first century universities. The visions of
Peirce, James, and Dewey offer instead a way of engaging philosophy in the
transformation of cultures.