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meaning-of-truth

The work of a leading figure in the transition from a predominantly European-centered 19th-century philosophy to a new American philosophy, this volume presents a full and definitive expression of the pragmatist epistemology. It encompasses everything James had hitherto written on the theory of knowledge, including later polemic and expository contributions, and replies tThe work of a leading figure in the transition from a predominantly European-centered 19th-century philosophy to a new American philosophy, this volume presents a full and definitive expression of the pragmatist epistemology. It encompasses everything James had hitherto written on the theory of knowledge, including later polemic and expository contributions, and replies to previous criticism....

Title : meaning of truth
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ISBN : 6447332
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 137 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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meaning of truth Reviews

  • Jana Light
    2018-11-18 12:35

    In this collection of short, rather informal essays, William James responds to critics of his presentation of truth in his prior book, Pragmatism where he defines truth as a relation of concepts to facts or realities. On his account, the existence of “truth” depends on there being a knower or conceptualizer – otherwise, all we have are the facts and realities. Truth is inherently humanistic, subject-dependent, and experiential, and each truth necessitates determined “workings out” of its consequences (both empirically and intellectually). Unfortunately, not having read Pragmatism (and I would highly recommend reading it first), James’ account of truth read a little piecemeal and disjointed, and was also a little repetitive. I actually like his definition of truth and want to read his formal account of it and read the papers challenging his definition. This brings me to what I think is the most interesting and valuable part of the book: it gives the reader a peek into the intellectual conversations and informal debates between the greatest philosophical minds of the day (James himself, Russell, Schiller, Hawtrey, etc.). Even considering the work as a series of conversations, however, the book is woefully one-sided. We only get James’ contributions and only come to know the argument of the other philosophers as presented and interpreted by James. It is inescapably incomplete, to the detriment of examining the larger issue of epistemology and belief. As always, I was struck by how James prefigured the science of psychology, and his defense of his account of truth certainly reflects his interest in the workings of the brain and how it influences belief (and how our beliefs influence our actions or wellbeing). Definitely worth a read for a James enthusiast or someone wanting to get an inside view of how his account was received in the larger philosophical community of his day. It serves as a nice bibliography.

  • Perry Whitford
    2018-12-07 10:18

    What a quant, old-fashioned concept Truth has become. Difficult as it might seem to believe for anyone presently under the age of twenty, people actually used to care about Truth. Loosely termed here by James as meaning an 'agreement with reality,' you can understand immediately why Truth has gone out of fashion in the era of fake news and rampant online conspiracy garbage.I just had to get that off my chest, sorry about that. This collection of essays, speeches, and vigorous defenses of his theory of pragmatism as it relates to the question of Truth is very much a philosophical work, not a political one.Pragmatism stood opposed to idealism and rationalism as a new theory about thought. James and his school asserted that the act of knowing was not static but active, continuously 'making itself valid' from concept to percept or wherever it terminates inbetween.James was a humanist, so the idea of a perfect God or an ideal, Platonic universe weren't enough for him. We have to play our active part. As such then, 'Truth we conceive to mean everywhere, not duplication, but addition; not the constructing of inner copies of already complete realities, but rather the collaborating with realities so as to bring about a clearer result.'Phrases like 'working,' 'expedient,' and 'cash value' led critics to suggest that pragmatism only involved practical truths and not conceptual ones, a conclusion which James equally regrets and derides here. The brief lecture on how the mind perceives things which aren't there ('The Tigers in India') should have put that to bed.More than once James had cause to rue his inadequacy in describing his meaning, his 'stumbling language.' I took this to more than mere modesty, for he really was deficient in making himself clear if this book is anything to go by. His language is inelegant, his analogies not always particularly useful (the one about two people's idea of a dog springs to mind).Not that I'm completely at home with the language of philosophy. That said, judging from the number of people James takes to task for who misunderstanding pragmatism I'm not the only one who found him to be insufficiently clear.

  • Bridget
    2018-12-15 10:24

    This is available online at

  • A
    2018-12-02 15:08

    The introduction of the book by H. S. Thayer gives an insight of James's previous book Pragmatism which is intended as a sequel to The Meaning of Truth.