Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/266

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Later Philosophy

ning of the twentieth century idealism itself became the object of organized attack by two movements known as pragmatism and naïf- or neo-realism. The former was due to the work of James and Dewey; the latter to the spread of renewed and serious interest in scientific philosophy, especially in the renaissance of mathematical philosophy best represented by Bertrand Russell. It is, however, an historic fact that Royce contributed very largely to the effective spread of these new philosophies, to pragmatism by his ethical (as opposed to intellectual) idealism and by his emphasis on the practical aspect of ideas, and to neo-realism by his teaching and writing on mathematical logic. His profound and loyal devotion to the ethical interests of mankind did not prevent him from regarding the question of human immortality as "one for reason in precisely the same sense in which the properties of prime numbers and the kinetic theory of gases are matters for exact investigation." In this way he continued to represent, against the growing tide of anti-intellectualism, the old faith in the dignity and potency of reason which is the corner-stone of humanistic liberalism.

In William James (1842-1910) we meet a personality of such large proportions and of such powerful appeal to contemporaneous sentiment that we may well doubt whether the time has yet come when his work can be adequately estimated. There are many who claim that he has transformed the very substance of philosophy by bringing it down from the cold, transcendental heights to men's business and bosoms. But whether that be so or not, the width and depth of his sympathies and the irresistible magic of his words have undoubtedly transformed the tone and manner of American philosophic writing. Outside of America also his influence has been impressive and is steadily increasing.

It is instructive to note at the outset the judgment of orthodox philosophers, boldly expressed by Howison:

Emerson and James were both great men of letters, great writers, yes, great thinkers, if you will, but they do not belong in the strict

technical philosophy, confining himself for the most part to books on education. James called him a "knight errant of the intellectual life" (Memories and Studies). In a letter to the writer, Professor Hoffding calls Davidson "one of the most beautiful figures in modern philosophy."