By Scott Philip Segrest
From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, seminal thinkers have declared 'common experience' crucial for ethical discernment and civilized residing. but the tale of common sense philosophy isn't popular this present day. In "America and the Political Philosophy of universal Sense", Scott Segrest strains the historical past and explores the private and social that means of logic as understood specifically in American idea and as mirrored particularly within the writings of 3 paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. the 1st characterize Scottish good judgment and the 3rd, Pragmatism, the universities that jointly ruled American greater proposal for almost centuries. proficient american citizens of the founding interval warmly obtained Scottish good judgment, Segrest writes, since it mirrored so good what they already inspiration, and he uncovers the elemental components of yankee good judgment in interpreting the idea of Witherspoon, who brought that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he exhibits the furthest improvement and boundaries of the philosophy, and with it of yankee logic in its Scottish realist part. With James, he indicates different dimensions of logic americans had lengthy embraced yet that had by no means been tested philosophically. truly, Segrest's paintings is far greater than an highbrow historical past. it's a research of the yank brain and of logic itself - its crucial personality and its human importance, either ethical and political. It used to be logic, he affirms, that underlay the announcement of Independence and the founders' principles of correct and legal responsibility which are nonetheless with us at the present time. Segrest means that figuring out this starting place and James' fresh of it can be the major to keeping America's very important ethical middle opposed to a transforming into alienation from good judgment around the Western global. Stressing the urgency of knowing and keeping logic, Segrest's paintings sheds new mild on an undervalued point of yankee notion and adventure, assisting us to understand the ramifications of common sense philosophy for dignified dwelling.
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Additional info for America and the political philosophy of common sense
After all, “Some moral and philosophical truths there are, withal, so evident in themselves, that it would be easier to imagine half mankind to have run mad and joined precisely in one and the same species of folly, than to admit anything as truth which should The Common Sense Tradition 31 be advanced against such natural knowledge, fundamental reason and common sense” as may be seen in the long run of human experience. Shaftesbury is distressed by the incapacity of many modern thinkers to see man complete and full-blooded, and the piling up of theoretical technicalities seems to him only to accentuate the substantive emptiness of their sense of human affairs.
49 Hume even agrees with Hutcheson’s account of the moral sense on all essential points. 51 But Hume’s epistemology fatally undermines the possibility of humanly accessible moral truth. This was central to Thomas Reid’s motivation in undertaking his painstaking analyses of the operations of the mind in An Inquiry into the Human Mind, the Essays on the Intellectual Powers, and the Essays on the Active Powers. 52 But Hume made the validity of this belief questionable, and Reid was concerned that others would follow who would take Hume’s epistemological skepticism with less equanimity, would take his thought as a refutation of the possibility of truth, and, as a result, feel freer to ignore their natural beliefs.
The second great philosophic consequence of the difference between Dewey and James on religious experience concerns the question of permanent metaphysical foundations for human ethics. Dewey thought that the only foundation possible and the only foundation necessary and desirable for ethics was the existing and ever-changing matrix of human relations within which we find ourselves and out of which, he claimed, our values and highest ideals emerge. Dewey continually begs the question as to the source of the best human ideals, assuming it is simply persons intelligently and imaginatively engaged with their human and material environment and suggesting new possibilities for improving the quality of life, and rules out divine inspiration as unverifiable.
America and the political philosophy of common sense by Scott Philip Segrest