The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
The Metaphysical Club is the winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History.
A riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.
The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea -- an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.
Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent -- like knives and forks and microchips -- to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals -- that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely depent -- like germs -- on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea deps not on its immutability but on its adaptability.
The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the Civil War and s in 1919 with Justice Holmes's dissenting opinion in the case of U.S. v. Abrams-the basis for the constitutional law of free speech. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about a way of thinking that changed American life."
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Review: The Metaphysical ClubUser Review - Charlene - Goodreads
I really enjoyed many parts of this book. However, I was hoping the author would go a little deeper and provide a richer story. There were so many threads he could have followed but didn't. Read full review
Review: The Metaphysical ClubUser Review - James Askari - Goodreads
Menand's book is more than the sum of its parts--unlike pragmatism, that cannot conceive of beliefs or behavioural dispositions other than as part of a whole complex of continuous adaptation to the ... Read full review
one The Politics of Slavery
two The Abolitionist
three The Wilderness and After
four The Man of Two Minds
seven The Peirces
e1ght The Law of Errors
n1ne The Metaphysical Club