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Wittgenstein and William James
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  • Page extent: 228 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 192
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: B3376.W564 G66 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Wittgenstein, Ludwig,--1889-19
    • James, William,--1842-1910

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521813150 | ISBN-10: 0521813158)

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$103.00 (C)

This book explores Wittgenstein's long engagement with the work of the pragmatist William James. In contrast to previous discussions, Russell Goodman argues that James exerted a distinctive and pervasive positive influence on Wittgenstein's thought. He shows that both share commitments to anti-foundationalism, to the description of the concrete details of human experience, and to the priority of practice over intellect. Considering in detail what Wittgenstein learnt from his reading of William James, Goodman provides considerable evidence for Wittgenstein's claim that he is saying "something that sounds like pragmatism."


Preface; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Varieties of pragmatic experience; 2. Wittgenstein and The Varieties of Religious Experience; 3. Wittgenstein and The Principles of Psychology: an introduction; 4. What is it like to be a human being?; 5. Language and meaning; 6. Pragmatism reconsidered; Coda; Notes; Index.


"Goodman is a very acute and sensitive reader of both James and Wittgenstein, and his book will be of great help to students of both philosophers." Richard Rorty

"It is an absolutely fascinating piece of philosophy, intellectual history, and detective work that establishes categorically the influence of William James on Wittgenstein's work. Goodman's prose is lucid and the overall thrust of the argument is entirely plausible. What is perhaps most powerful is that Goodman puts the two protagonists' stories in a sort of conversation which seems perfectly self-evident...but is nonetheless quite original." Simon Critchley, Univerisity of Essex

"One of the most fascinating chapters in this history of philosophy concerns the deep influence, both positive and negative, that William James had upon the later Wittgenstein. But the proper telling of it had to await the publication of Goodman's book, in which a sensitive and imaginative account is meticulously built upon a close reading of their texts. This happy combination of scholarship and philosophical power is the history of philosophy at its best." Richard M. Gale, University of Pittsburgh

"Wittgenstein and William James contains rich, nuanced discussions of many topics, including the definition and sou rces of knowledge, religion, the self and consciousness, language and meaning, emotion, and much more. Professor Goodman's book will benefit students of both James and Wittgenstein alike, because the comparisons drawn result in a deeper appreciation of both thinkers." Theory & Psychology _

"Both students of Wittgenstein and students of James will welcome this study, which reveals a more complex and rich relationship than has been supposed." - Wesley Cooper, University of Alberta

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