01:730:367 American Philosophy
- Instructor: McCrossin, Edward
01 (T. McCrossin) Overview:
Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? — Emerson, Nature
“Philosophy in America,” interesting and important generally speaking, is historically and philosophically distinct from “American Philosophy” in particular. The former begins in colonial times, unsurprising, and persists throughout the eighteenth century as a provocative, but nonetheless not overly distant variant of British and European philosophies — what’s sometimes referred to as the “Enlightenment in America.” This changes suddenly early in the nineteenth century, American Philosophy beginning now in earnest, with the advent of American Transcendentalism, and changes again toward the middle of the century, bringing American Philosophy all the more distinctly into view, with the advent of Pragmatism, now dubbed Classical Pragmatism, as distinguished from its arguably more diffuse twentieth-century counterpart, Neo-Pragmatism.
With periodic reference to the perspectives developed in “Descartes, Locke, and the Seventeenth Century,” “Hume, Kant, and the Eighteenth Century,” and “Nineteenth-Century Philosophy,” we will devote ourselves to developing together a systematic sense of American Philosophy so described.* The nagging question that we will want ultimately to address is, has American Philosophy, having arisen in reaction to Philosophy in America, returned to its less distinctive origins, and if so, does this matter? We will do so together, our proceedings as participatory as possible, based on the idea that philosophy is best done as conversationally as possible. In addition to anticipating being actively involved in a semester-long conversation, participants should anticipate completing substantial during-term and end-of-term writing projects.
- Familiarity with the history of philosophy in these eras and more generally is not a prerequisite for joining the class, nor for doing well, but may well be helpful nonetheless. In this spirit, at least the most notable of the works in question will be available in “Files” Canvas in advance of the semester.
- Credits: 3
- Syllabus Disclaimer: The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (e.g. Canvas) on the first day of class.