Philosophy

WILLIAM JAMES’S EXHILARATING movement to sweep aside all philosophies is making a surprising comeback a century later

In ordinary speech, pragmatism connotes practicality, commonsense, feet on the ground—virtues Americans like to think of as specifically American virtues. One thing the term does not connote is philosophical speculation. Read more >>

A distinguished scholar of American literature discusses why, after a career of study and reflection, he believes that Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman are bad for you

Quentin Anderson, Julian Clarence Levy Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Columbia University, argues in his best-known book, The Imperial Self: An Essay in American Literary and Cultural History , that the writings of three of our most repr Read more >>

Our ancestors look gravely and steadily upon things that we cannot

In the course of this lethal century, death has been rendered increasingly abstract—a choreographed plunge on the television screen, the punch of a red button in a bomber or a computer game, a statistic in a column of print. Read more >>

When Winifred Smith Rieber confidently agreed to paint a group portrait of America’s five pre-eminent philosophers, she had no idea it would be all but impossible even to get them to stay in the same room with one another.

Mother was off again, this time to New England to paint the Harvard philosophy department—all five of its members, and on a single canvas. Read more >>
Nearly two centuries after Crèvecoeur propounded his notorious question—“What then is the American, this new man?”—Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian writing in the Bicentennial year on the subject “The North Americans” for Crisis Read more >>

“Your body is a temple,” our ancestors told their pubescent youngsters. ‘Now go take a cold bath”

Standards of propriety were lofty indeed Read more >>
“What a sacred office is that of the parent!” exclaimed an anonymous contributor to The Parent’s Magazine in December, 1840. Read more >>
Ideas change. Read more >>