Book ID: CBB464920868

Darwinism and Pragmatism: William James on Evolution and Self-Transformation (2017)


McGranahan, Lucas Robert (Author)


Publication Date: 2017
Physical Details: 200 pp.
Language: English

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection challenges our very sense of belonging in the world. Unlike prior evolutionary theories, Darwinism construes species as mutable historical products of a blind process that serves no inherent purpose. It also represents a distinctly modern kind of fallible science that relies on statistical evidence and is not verifiable by simple laboratory experiments. What are human purpose and knowledge if humanity has no pre-given essence and science itself is our finite and fallible product? According to the Received Image of Darwinism, Darwin’s theory signals the triumph of mechanism and reductionism in all science. On this view, the individual virtually disappears at the intersection of (internal) genes and (external) environment. In contrast, William James creatively employs Darwinian concepts to support his core conviction that both knowledge and reality are in the making, with individuals as active participants. In promoting this Pragmatic Image of Darwinism, McGranahan provides a novel reading of James as a philosopher of self-transformation. Like his contemporary Nietzsche, James is concerned first and foremost with the structure and dynamics of the finite purposive individual. This timely volume is suitable for advanced undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers interested in the fields of history of philosophy, history and philosophy of science, history of psychology, American pragmatism and Darwinism.

Reviewed By

Review Chris Haufe (2018) Review of "Darwinism and Pragmatism: William James on Evolution and Self-Transformation". Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 255-257). unapi

Review Jay Odenbaugh (2019) Review of "Darwinism and Pragmatism: William James on Evolution and Self-Transformation". History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (p. 23). unapi

Essay Review Matthew Crippen (2018) William James, Darwinian Theory and Personal Evolution. Science and Education (pp. 239-241). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
James, William
Skrupskelis, Ignas K.
Berkeley, Elizabeth M.
Leary, David E.
Croce, Paul J.
Ignas K. Skrupskelis, Elizabeth M. Berkeley
History of Psychology
History of Philosophy Quarterly
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
History of the Human Sciences
Science and Education
University of Virginia Press
Vanderbilt University Press
University of California, Santa Cruz
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Pragmatism; instrumentalism
Collected correspondence
James, William
Peirce, Charles Sanders
James, Henry
Stumpf, Carl
Sidgwick, Henry
Münsterberg, Hugo
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
United States

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