- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 8 months, 1 week ago by Gary Jaron.
- May 10, 2023 at 10:37 am #1391Phil OliverMember
That’s what Henry Adams should have got, if he was paying attention, from William James’s late-life “magnificent outburst” on behalf of the human spirit and against reductively, fashionably unwise popular science pessimism… truly a reflection of WJ’s own “incandescent spirit,” as his best biographer has written… (post continues: https://jposopher.blogspot.com/2023/05/a-real-education.html)
Richardson was referencing WJ’s “magnificent outburst” in response to Henry Adams’s depressed and superficial reflections on the significance for history of the 2d law of thermodynamics. Irrelevant, said WJ. Then, Richardson applauds,
“What can one say about the philosophical bravado, the cosmic effrontery, the sheer panache of this ailing philosopher with one foot in the grave talking down the second law of thermodynamics? It is a scene fit to set alongside the death of Socrates. The matchless incandescent spirit of the man!” –William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism by Robert D. Richardson
It really was one of WJ’s finer, nobler moments, wasn’t it?
- June 20, 2023 at 11:24 am #1417Gary JaronModerator
Phil, I think you are on to something. James is asking and trying to answer a type of philosophic question. James can say that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is ‘Irrelevant’ because James wants you, the listener, the doing and using philosophy to focus on a very specific type of question.
I will offer up my answer to the Jamesian project in a separate post here. What is important to realize with your quote and what you have noticed is that James has chutzpah, to use a Yiddish term. James is demonstrating bravado, effrontery, and panache because James is pointing us toward certain questions about how we want to spend our life. What do you want to do to make yourself happy?
- This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by Gary Jaron.
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