Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/272

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Later Philosophy

associate with the intellectual publicans and sinners and learn from the denizens of the intellectual underworld.

James s position in the history of metaphysics is still a matter of debate, but as a seer or prophet he may fitly be put beside Emerson. Like Emerson, he preached and nobly exemplified faith in one's intuition and the duty of keeping one's oracular soul open. In spite of a note of obscurantism in his attitude to logic and "over beliefs," there is no doubt that the main effect of his work was to raise the American standard of intellectual honesty and courage: Let us stop this miserable pretence of having at last logically proved the comforting certainties of our inherited religion. Let us admit that we have no absolute assurance of the complete success of our ideals. But the fight is on. We can all take our part. Shame on the one who sulks and stays out.

The vital and arresting words in which James was able to put his thoughts were bound to attract large public attention. But it is doubtful whether he would have got a full hearing from American philosophers if it were not for the powerful support of John Dewey, the only American about whom has been formed a regular philosophic school. Dewey began his philosophic career under the influence of Harris, T. H. Green, and Bosanquet, and in his early writings, e.g., his Psychology, he showed himself a master of Hegelian dialectics. Reflection, however, led him to find an incurable incompatibility between the supernaturalism latent in idealism and the naturalistic account of the origin of human thought. He completely accepts James's view of the biologic function of thought, and brings to its service such a thorough mastery of philosophic technique as to compel attention from philosophers who, like other professionals, find it hard to admit the existence of good music where there is no obvious virtuosity. Despite his large debt to James's Principles of Psychology, Dewey is an independent ally rather than a disciple, and James was largely indebted in his later writings to Dewey's doctrine of the instrumental character of our ideas. It appears that pragmatism, like other successful human movements, can appeal to men of most diverse temperaments. While James is keenly alive to the claims of the traditional supernaturalism and uses pragmatism as a way of justifying it, Dewey uses pragmatism as a means of eliminat-