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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail
 



E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
The Crisis of Victorianism


E-Seminar 2
The Search for a Scientific Culture


E-Seminar 4
Ethnic Pluralism


E-Seminar 5
The Intellectuals and the First World War


E-Seminar 6
The Rise of Consumer Culture


E-Seminar 7
The Culture of "The People"


 
Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945
E-Seminar 3, Pragmatism and Its Critics

Taught by: Casey Nelson Blake

Description
E-Seminar Description
In the early years of the twentieth century, the philosophy known as pragmatism became an essential current of American thought. Its most widely known advocates were William James and John Dewey, public intellectuals who argued that the time had come for philosophy to abandon the search for absolute truth and to focus on solving the concrete, practical problems of individuals and societies. Their work, though often controversial, provided inspiration to generations of American intellectuals and activists. In this third e-seminar of the series Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890-1945, Casey Nelson Blake explores the philosophy of pragmatism, details the lives and contributions of James and Dewey, and describes the critiques of pragmatist thought. Pragmatism and Its Critics is presented through text and streaming video of Professor Blake's lecture and with visual material, readings, and a discussion forum.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Credits:Not-for-Credit
Prerequisites:None
Moderator:None
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

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E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•    Learn about the roots of pragmatism and its main ideas.

•   Explore William James' personal crisis and search for meaning and how pragmatism helped him move beyond the impasse of Victorian culture.

•   Understand James's view of the world as "pluralistic" and how his outlook prefigured arguments about ethnic and racial diversity in the United States.

•   Learn about John Dewey's social and political focus and the role he believed philosophy could play in solving "the problems of men."

•   Understand the connections between Dewey's democratic convictions and his dedication to educational reform.

•   Learn about the objections to pragmatism that have been raised within philosophy by religious thinkers and leftist critics.

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Outline
1. Introduction
2. Pragmatism
     Core Ideas
     Formative Influences
3. William James
     Life and Experiences
     Jamesian Psychology
     Moral and Religious Implications
     Jamesian Pragmatism
     Politics
     Criticism
4. John Dewey
     Dewey and James
     Life and Career
     Reconstructing Philosophy
     Educational Reform
     Social Theory and Politics
     Critiques of Pragmatism
5. Conclusion

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
A native New Yorker, Casey Nelson Blake is Professor of History and Director of the American Studies program at Columbia University. He has also taught at Reed College, Indiana University, the University of Rome, and Washington University in St. Louis. Blake is the author of many works on U.S. intellectual and cultural history, including Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford. In addition to his scholarly publications, Blake has published essays and criticism in the American Scholar, Commonweal, Dissent, the Nation, Tikkun, and other journals of opinion. He is currently writing a book on public art and civic culture in the United States.

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Recommended Reading
Cotkin, George. William James, Public Philosopher. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Fox, Richard Wightman, and James T. Kloppenberg, eds. A Companion to American Thought. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995.

Hollinger, David A., and Charles Capper, eds. The American Intellectual Tradition: A Sourcebook. 4th ed. Vol. 2, 1865 to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Kloppenberg, James T. Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Menand, Louis. The Metaphysical Club. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

Westbrook, Robert B. John Dewey and American Democracy. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.


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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

IBM-COMPATIBLE PC
Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MACINTOSH
MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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