Saturday 8 November 2014

James, politics and prescriptive pluralism: part 1

I'm just starting to read Kennan Ferguson's William James: Politics in the Pluriverse, a book that I've been meaning to get hold of for some time. So far it's a good read.

The early part of the book attempts to dissociate James' pluralism, a term that he popularised in the late nineteenth century, from the course that word took in the twentieth.
James created pluralism as an anti-Hegelian distrust of all universalist systematizing—an anti-teleological ethos that emphasizes the profound and meaningful differences in the worlds of different people. In short, James' pluralism was prescriptive
Over the course of the twentieth century, however, the term pluralism came to primarily mean something far different, something merely descriptive. Pluralism is now understood as referring to the fact of human difference, the unpleasant and sometimes unavoidable incommensurability of values that threatens people's abilities to build political institutions, share meanings and even communicate. (15)
Later the book goes into the connections between Continental and American philosophies and a Jamesian 'onticology' of objects.