American Thought: A Critical Sketch

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1954 - Philosophy - 448 pages
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What constitutes American thought is obviously tooelusive to be encompassed by any one writer or groupof writers. Th e best that any attempt at intellectual historycan achieve is to indicate some of its traces in writtenrecords. This volume represents the eff orts of oneof America's leading philosophers to do just that. He isuniquely qualifi ed to do so, as his contemporary SidneyHook well understood.

As Cohen noted, most of what people say and writeis dominated by linguistic forms or habits. Thus thedominance of the traditions and habits that make up theEnglish language has been the strongest single infl uence infashioning American thought as very largely a province ofBritish thought--despite the Declaration of Independenceand two wars. Cohen describes how American thoughtdeveloped from its British roots. It deals with refl ectivethought, i.e. with thought that is conscious of its problems,of its methods and of the widest general bearings of theresults obtained so far. Th e diverse subjects discussedrange from religious thinking to the scientifi c, and fromthe legal tradition to literary criticism.

Among the important figures Cohen assesses areDewey, Santayana, Holmes, Brandeis, Whitehead, James,and Royce as well as those of men less well-known butsometimes equally infl uential. In its scope and insight,this book takes its own unique and important place inAmerican thought.

Morris Raphael Cohen was a memberof the fabled department of philosophyat the City College of New York between1912 and 1938. He wrote numerous booksand articles including A Preface to Logic, ADreamer's Journey, Refl ections of a WonderingJew, and Law and Social Order.

Felix S. Cohen, the son of the author,edited this volume. He was a lawyer andscholar known for his work in legal philosophy and Indian lawand policy. He worked in the solicitor's offi ce in the Departmentof the Interior under Franklin D. Roosevelt and is the authorof both The Handbook of Federal Indian Law and Readings inJurisprudence and Legal Philosophy.

 

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