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Jamesianism in Six Points

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1. In anthropology, James thought of a human as a stream of consciousness, and of the conscious being as unified by his internal cohesion, the way one pulse of awareness follows from and flows out of another, not by any facts as to its physical or metaphysical setting.

2. In metaphysics, James defined himself by negation, resisting both the "upper" and the "lower" dogmatisms, both idealism and materialism insofar as either threatens to impose on us a deterministic block universe.

3. In epistemology, Jamesian thought had both a negative and a positive pole. He told us to beware of verbal formulas we cannot translate into practical terms, and to believe what is in the line of our needs.

4. In ethics, James held that the only fact true about all goods is that they are objects of desire -- that objects of desire do and must conflict with one another -- and that moral life accordingly has a tragic aspect, which it is our duty to lessen over time.

5. In politics, James resisted early U.S. imperialism, and proposed the re-direction of energies into "equivalents" of war: that is, a strategy of the sublimation of violence.

6. In aesthetics, James wrote that the difference between the first and the second best things in art "absolutely seems to escape verbal definition -- it is a matter of a hair, a shade, an inward quiver of some kind...."


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