Pragmatism Working Group Meeting


From: Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 03:30pm

To: Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 06:00pm

Meeting of the Pragmatism Working Group

Please join us for a preliminary discussion of Humboldt's Views of Nature, Wednesday, 10-17, 3:30-5 PM, CCA Seminar Room.

Up for discussion will be the fifth view,"Ideas for a Physiognomy of Plants," alongside a Humboldt-inspired piece from Franz Boas, "The Study of Geography." Neither of these have clear connections to pragmatism, but might they suggest the challenges of thinking through a pragmatist worldview? As a refresher, consider William James' evocation of the problem of the one and the many in Pragmatism.

PDFs have been uploaded to SAKAI. For those of you planning to follow along this year, we highly recommend you purchase the new translation of Views of Nature by Mark W. Person, edited by Stephen T. Jackson and Laura Dassow Walls (U Chicago Press). It is significantly different from, and better than, the original English translation.

--Brad and Chris

Pragmatism Working Group Seminar
Views of Nature
3:30, CCA

Leila Gomez, Spanish and Portuguese, U Colorado Boulder (
Lecture Thursday, November 15, 4:30, Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese 
Pragmatism Seminar Friday, November 16, 3:30, CCA 
Co-Sponsored (so far) with Spanish and Portuguese, Americanist Seminar

Conference: Humboldt, Darwin, and Pragmatist Worldviews
with Laura Walls (Notre Dame), Steven Meyer (Wash U St. Louis), Joan Richardson (CUNY) and others t.b.d. 
Co-Sponsors t.b.d.

The Pragmatism Working Group 2018-19

The Pragmatism Working Group is a made up of faculty and graduate students interested in the history and contemporary theoretical implications of Pragmatism. Over the last two years, we have invited a number of scholars to campus to lead discussions of primary works by Peirce, James and Dewey that have played a role in their own work. For instance, last fall we had the political scientists Melvin Rogers and Alexander Livingston in to talk about Dewey and political theory. In the spring, we had the anthropologist Eduardo Kohn in to talk about why he thought Peirce was useful in his anthropological work in the Amazon. He chose some Peirce readings, and we spent the time together talking about Peirce in the context of the turn to “post-human anthropology.” 

Over this time, the working group has taken up many of the peculiarities of nineteenth century philosophy surrounding the emergence of Pragmatism—for instance, most recently, Peirce on protoplasm; and we have done so with an eye, for the most part, on philosophical precedents, namely Kant and Hegel. And yet, we have not much considered a parallel tradition of equal importance, which has been lurking somewhat below the surface of our discussions, namely developments in the natural sciences. We have caught a glimpse of it by way of frequent allusion to Charles Darwin; but we wanted to go more into depth on the topic. 

This year, the group will take up this second branch of nineteenth century thought with a series of directed readings of Alexander von Humboldt and Darwin. In the fall, we will turn our attention to Humboldt’s most widely read and influential work, Views of Nature. Spring semester will be devoted to a more wide-ranging engagement with Darwinian ideas in pragmatist thinking, then and now. As in years past, the group will be inviting a number of specialists to campus to share their work and lead seminars on primary materials, leading to a one-day conference, “Humboldt, Darwin and Pragmatist Worldviews,” on March 8. 


Academic Bldg West Wing Room 6050
15 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, NJ, 08901


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Events sponsored by the Center for Cultural Analysis are free and open to the public, unless specifically noted

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