The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

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9780007126897: The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

A riveting, original book about the creation of the modern American mind

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., founder of modern jurisprudence; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea – an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea. Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent – like knives and forks and microchips – to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals – that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely dependent – like germs – on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea depends not on its immutability but on its adaptability. The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the American Civil War and ends with the First World War. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about the evolution of the American mind during the crucial period that formed the world we now inhabit.

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Review:

‘Exceptional, stimulating and riveting intellectual history. A timely account of the origins of humanity.’ Scotland on Sunday

'America, and not only America, would do well to turn again to the teachings of a great indigenous philosophical movement, the development of which Louis Menand…has traced in this most perceptive, elegantly organised and beautifully written book.'
John Banville, The Irish Times

'a marvellous book…what a luxury to have the sheer forcefulness of these minds laid out in front of us.'
Richard D North, The Independent

'A fascinating exploration of the American mind'
The Economist (Books of the Year)

'a seductively crafted work and compulsively readable'
Kenan Malik, New Statesman

'digs deeper than any previous study into pragmatism's origins, establishing suggestive connections between it and an array of social, political and intellectual developments…it is full of insights.'
Ben Rogers, The Financial Times

‘The Metaphysical Club is brilliant, illuminating, necessary.’ Joan Didion

‘The Metaphysical Club makes a genuinely original contribution to our national self-understanding… as evocative, and precise, as a Luminist painting.’ Henry Louis Gates, Jr

‘This is a richly populated, intellectually thrilling book in which America is shown to be discovering its future.’ Richard Poirier

From the Back Cover:

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., founder of modern jurisprudence; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea – an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.

Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent – like knives and forks and microchips – to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals – that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely dependent – like germs – on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea depends not on its immutability but on its adaptability.

The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the American Civil War and ends with the First World War. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about the evolution of the American mind during the crucial period that formed the world we now inhabit.

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Menand, Louis
Published by Flamingo (2001)
ISBN 10: 0007126891 ISBN 13: 9780007126897
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2.

Menand, Louis
Published by Flamingo (2001)
ISBN 10: 0007126891 ISBN 13: 9780007126897
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007126891

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
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