A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA, Vol. I & II by Elizabeth & Murray G. Murphey Flower

A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA, Vol. I & II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Philosophy has not had as heroic a career in America as in Europe: there have been few philosophical giants or all-encompassing systems on this side of the Atlantic. In fact, explain Flower and Murphey (Philosophy & American Studies,. U. of Penn.), American philosophy has never displayed a genius for sheer theorizing but has instead occupied the ""practical role"" of ""mediator between or synthesizer of science and religion"" and guide to ""life and social institutions."" Using this as their theme, the authors dutifully chart the career of American philosophy from its origins in Calvinist theology and early modern science through its variations by region and university and the ""pervasive"" influence exerted by Scottish Common Sense Realism to the major figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to whom they devote half of the book--Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, Dewey, and C. I. Lewis. (They leave ""the story of philosophy in twentieth-century America"" to ""future historians"" who should make it ""at least a three-volume work!"") Combining philosophical exegesis, lengthy comments on the European sources of American thought, and a sense of American culture, especially in the early years, the book is the most thorough survey available. And yet it suffers from an unassured and textbookish tone, verbosity, and, most seriously, insufficient critical thrust or philosophical vision to infuse coherence and immediacy into the history of philosophy. Lacking this vision, the selection of subjects by ""significant movements, by dominating figures, by academic institutions,"" is philosophically arbitrary. A larger history than its leading predecessor, by Herbert Schneider, but critically wanting.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1977
ISBN: 399-11650-8
Publisher: Putnam