Talk:American philosophy

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Nice article. Good introductions. --Blainster (talk) 03:46, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Thank you! JEN9841 (talk) 03:31, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree. This article fills a big gap. The Tetrast (talk) 03:51, 21 October 2009 (UTC).

Radically new?[edit]

From the article:

James, along with Peirce, saw pragmatism as a radical new way to think and resolve dilemmas. In his 1910 Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking

That sounds contradictory.

Pragmatism does seem to involve some radical innovation in philosophy, with its sense of meaning as prospective, but, right in the quote, James calls it "a new name for some old ways of thinking," and meanwhile Peirce says (CP 5.11):

Any philosophical doctrine that should be completely new could hardly fail to prove completely false; but the rivulets at the head of the river of pragmatism are easily traced back to almost any desired antiquity.
  Socrates bathed in these waters. Aristotle rejoices when he can find them. ....

. The radicalism may be in terms of (CP 5.12) its "conscious adoption" and "the elaboration of it into a method in aid of philosophic inquiry".

In short, the quoted sentence seems to need a rewrite but I'm unsure how to proceed. The Tetrast (talk) 03:51, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Update: I've given it a shot, replacing "as a radical new way to think and resolve dilemmas" with "as embodying familiar attitudes elaborated into radical new philosophical method of thinking and resolving dilemmas" The Tetrast (talk) 17:27, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

I find your change here to be acceptable. JEN9841 (talk) 21:41, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, I feel lots of trepidation in writing about William James, I'm only lightly acquainted with his work. Thanks again for getting this whole article going, I couldn't have done such a thing. The Tetrast (talk) 04:28, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Ayn Rand[edit]

Once again, a problem with Ayn Rand and philosophy. An IP address has recently removed the paragraph which contains a discussion of Ayn Rand and her work, in addition to removed her picture from the page, citing the fact that "Ayn Rand is not recognized by academia and so is not philosophy". I reverted it, referring to the change as "drastic," and asked that all future such revisions be discussed on the talk page. The same IP address quickly reverted my revert. The issue at hand appears to be whether or not Ayn Rand should be mentioned in an article on American philosophy. I think she should be. It would seem to me to be highly unusual for an article on American philosophy to entirely omit Rand, regardless of her stature in academia. At best (or worse), something should be said (from an academic perspective) about her work. What does everyone else think? JEN9841 (talk) 04:03, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Mentioned yes, but the current level of prominence is not proportionate. She is only taught in a couple of places (and those receive foundation type grants) and in general the best that can be said is that she is a "popular" philosopher. --Snowded TALK 06:36, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree with JEN9841 on all his points. It's true that few academic American philosophers besides Robert Nozick and Randall Dipert (C.S. Peirce Professor of American Philosophy, SUNY at Buffalo) have given Ayn Rand much credit. I think it's somewhere in Anarchy, State, and Utopia that Nozick says that, thanks to Rand, nobody (or "no philosopher" - I forget the exact words) will again be able to talk about what it is that people are entitled to without raising the issue of who is to produce it, and so on; that's Nozick's testament to her standing influence. And "philosophy" has never been entirely synonymous with "academic philosophy." I think that Ayn Rand is a special case (especially given most philosophers' unfortunate reluctance during the past 100 years to define philosophy other than by identifying it for the time being with some program or department within philosophy - "study of the logic of science" - "phenomenological description of the world as lived" - "chiefly critical" - "very intelligent conversation" - or by defining it as "the discipline that can't define itself" - etc.).
1. Many have criticized her technical-philosophical adeptness and her erudition in past philosophy. But exceptional cases happen. Somewhat (though not very) analogously, in literature Theodore Dreiser's literary prose adeptness has not often been highly regarded, but his work is still considered literature i.e. "belletristic". He lacks something but he also has something.
2. Ayn Rand has clearly had an impact on latter-half 20th-Century American political philosophy, particularly among libertarians, even if it's often such that libertarians and others criticize her or even define themselves against her. I don't know how to source that claim but doesn't she always come up sooner or later when such people talk? A philosophical impact. Insertion: Here is one Brian Doherty saying in 2005 "Libertarianism may not 'usually' begin with Ayn Rand anymore. But...," alluding to the title of a 1971 book It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand (American libertarianism, that is). The point being that Rand has been a seminal writer in a popular political-philosophical movement influential in the USA. Is that not a significant part of Betty Friedan's claim to be in this article? Friedan's career for the most part was not in academia though, granted, she and her books have been much discussed and taught there, though usually not cheek-and-jowl with more theoretical philosophers such as Putnam, Rawls, or Nozick (or maybe I'm wrong about that but I haven't thought so). End of insertion The Tetrast (talk) 23:04, 1 February 2010 (UTC). At any rate, no right-of-center philosopher seems able to get away without taking some kind of stance about Rand as a philosopher good or bad. A picture of the American political-philosophy scene is not complete without her. The general reader can fairly expect to see something about her in this article. Nobody here has called her the devil, but if anybody thinks that she is, then it's still best to give her her due and move on.
3. Kant talks somewhere about the capaciousness of philosophy, its housing of many things that not all would agree are philosophy in the strictest sense (whatever that is).
4. The original opening paragraph to the "Return to political philosophy" section contained five sentences, four of which were about Rand and were fairly concise and uncontroversial, well designed to keep the section from turning into another Rand argument zone. I don't think that four sentences are too much. If such is felt to be out of proportion, an alternative is to expand the non-Rand discussion in the section and elsewhere in the article. It's not impractical to suggest that or to wait for it happen; it will very likely happen. Keep in mind that it's a young article and can be expected to grow further. It may also be appropriate to include a sourced statement that many American academic philosophers do not consider Rand to be a genuine philosopher, since the presence of that common opinion is another long-standing fact of the American philosophical scene. On the other hand, then somebody will swoop in, seeking to add a counterbalancing statement or three. I'd say that it's best that, as to Rand, this article get in then get out.
Therefore I concur with JEN9841 (FWIW, this article's creator and principal editor so far, while I've done work in the Pragmatism section, especially regarding Peirce, also added lots of pix) that the four Rand sentences be restored. The Tetrast (talk) 17:07, 1 February 2010 (UTC). Small addition. The Tetrast (talk) 17:20, 1 February 2010 (UTC).
The Tetrast's comments I believe are insightful. I would like to restore the Rand section, but this time with a sentence expressing the fact that, overall, she has not been well-received in academia. Perhaps something like, "While Rand remains popular within the American libertarian movement, academic philosophers have been highly critical of the quality and intellectual rigor of her work." JEN9841 (talk) 02:28, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Or "Academic philosophers have been highly critical of the quality and intellectual rigor of Rand's work, but she remains popular within the American libertarian movement." Just a thought. Either way is okay with me. (Actually, in my experience, she's popular also among quite a few Christians except (and it's a big "except") on religion and child-raising, but we've enough on our plate in this article as it is.) Also bring back the pic! I won't make a recommendation on how long to wait for Snowded to respond, but he may be busy at the moment. I've been rather busy myself (plus I have a cold) otherwise I'd be less wordy, more concise. The Tetrast (talk) 03:10, 2 February 2010 (UTC).
Your version seems to sound a little better. At any rate, I'll wait a day or two for more opinion before I make the change. JEN9841 (talk) 04:32, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I waited four days for other opinions, and since there were none, I made the changes that the Tetrast and myself had agreed to. JEN9841 (talk) 03:45, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Describe Santayana as Hispanic-American or Spanish-American?[edit]

My answer is: Basically, both. changed the image caption for Santayana from "George Santayana, the most famous Hispanic-American philosopher" to "George Santayana, the most famous Spanish-American philosopher", and in the edit summary said: "he was not Hispanic, but spanish." However, "Hispanic" is usually taken to include, without being limited to, "Spanish"; i.e., all Spanish are Hispanic but not vice versa. In other words, the image caption had been saying that Santayana was the most famous US philosopher from anywhere in the whole Spanish-speaking world, and's edit now has decreased that to Santayana's being the most famous US philosopher from Spain, just one part of that world. The article already says that Santayana was "Spanish-born", so, I'm inclined to revert's good-faith edit. (Actually, more of an issue is that of the sense in which Santayana is describable as one of the philosophical pragmatists, but I'm not prepared to explore that issue currently, but I hope to get to it.) The Tetrast (talk) 15:49, 27 April 2010 (UTC).

Here are some dictionary definitions that back up what The Tetrast has said:
Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Of or relating to a Spanish-speaking people or culture.
A Spanish-speaking person.
A U.S. citizen or resident of Latin-American or Spanish descent.
I would support your edit reversion. JEN9841 (talk) 20:14, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Done! The Tetrast (talk) 21:50, 28 April 2010 (UTC).
Recent editor changed it back to "Spanish-American", that editor should read this talk page section. The Tetrast (talk) 02:12, 5 December 2010 (UTC).
"Spanish-American" is undeniably correct. "Hispanic-American" is maybe correct depending on what you mean by "Hispanic" but is confusing, because while it can maybe include Spain, it also can exclude Spain depending on who you talk to. So what is the point of taking a clear phrase everyone understands and replacing it with a confusing phrase? (talk) 19:07, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

Rawls & Nozick images[edit]

Somebody has restored the Rawls image but removed the Nozick image. It's starting to seem silly. What's up?

Both images have been questioned. Both images remain in main articles. Both were in Harvard Gazette Google image searches on
Rawls image file John Rawls Rawls ("File photo by Jane Reed") Rawls
Nozick image file Robert Nozick Nozick Nozick

There is a deletion request only for the Nozick image.

The Nozick image was also used by the Britannica (which says that it's from the Harvard U news office) and also by The Telegraph. The Rawls image was used also by the NY Times. The Rawls image appears at a number of academic sites.

Suggestions? The Tetrast (talk) 22:45, 28 April 2010 (UTC). Tweaks The Tetrast (talk) 22:54, 28 April 2010 (UTC).

Late response, I know, but that is indeed strange that Nozick has no images on Wikipedia. JEN9841 (talk) 21:24, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
Some copyright issue, I guess. I was just worried that this wiki would turn into an image battleground with deletions, re-insertions, etc. I was laying the groundwork to nip it in the bud, but then the activity ceased so all's well, though I have to admit that the wiki looked nicer with the Nozick image still in it. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 25 June 2010 (UTC).

Alasdair MacIntyre[edit]

I am starting to have second thoughts about the inclusion of Alasdair MacIntyre in this article. It is true that he has taught in America for very long, and he is largely responsible for the resurgence of virtue ethics in the United States. Nonetheless, I still believe his treatment in this article is too long. I think somehow we could strike a compromise, where his treatment is not as long as it is now, but we still mention his status in American philosophy. This is a judgment call, and I would just like to hear others' thoughts and opinions. JEN9841 (talk) 16:36, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

Tough one for me. There's an early lecture series by Peirce that's often called his lectures "on British logicians" but they're not all British; they're all in the British tradition. How important is MacIntyre and how "American" is he or has he become (or how MacIntyrean has he made American ethical philosophy)? I tried briefening the MacIntyre paragraph but mostly by rephrasing. For my part I won't object if you shorten it more substantially, I lack a strong view on the question. The Tetrast (talk) 16:47, 2 August 2010 (UTC).

Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany are missing[edit]

Jewish and other refugees from Nazi Germany such as Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, and Theodor Adorno made huge contributions to American philosophical life. They brought with them philosophical knowledge from continental Europe: the critical theorists contributed to the American social sciences and the Straussians established one of modern America’s most important schools in political philosophy. The European brain drain during the early and mid twentieth century greatly impacted intellectual life in both continental Europe and the United States, causing the American university and American intellectual life to take on a leading role. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:03-rawls-225.jpg[edit]

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I see absurd people[edit]

lacks a "core of defining features, American Philosophy can nevertheless be seen as both reflecting and shaping collective American identity over the history of the nation." Is unintentionally hilarious. Hopefully at some point somebody will be able to do better than that. (talk) 19:28, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

Not meant to be an unconstructive comment: in fact it's fairly well known and accepted that American public discourse takes place in fairly narrow channels, dictated to some extent by the failure of education but predominantly by the active maintenance of a common world view that unites for example the Democratic and Republican parties and the vast majority of the population excluding only a small minority. In fact it does have a very clear core of base defining features incident upon the origins of the dramatis personnae, i.e. as European lumpen proletarians, African slaves, etc. Expository text recapitulating known scholarship on this is what I was referring to. Also there appears to be a conflation or lack of exposition of the difference between the amalgam or construction of the lede, American popular philosophy or whatever, and the branch of Western academic philosophy which is what the body of the article is about. (talk) 19:05, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
I suggest there is still no better nor more prescient definition than from the opening of Book II of De Toqueville's Democracy in America. A rather long quote, perhaps, but a quote from Tocqueville is obligatory in any case. This perhaps only addresses your first sentence, but it is a start. I agree with your last sentence, but its description is beyond my powers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Harrycroswell (talkcontribs) 23:24, 18 October 2013 (UTC)