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The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand
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Sep 16, 2011

really liked it

An excellent account of the development American philosophy--with a focus on pragmatism--in the long shadow of the civil war. Menand follows several major thinkers of the era: Jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, psychologist William James, mathematician Charles Pierce, and philosopher John Dewey. He also touches on their influences, in particular biologist Louis Agassi, theologian Waldo Emerson, and community leader Jane Addams.

Menand carefully follows the development of his thinkers through their writings, their letters, letters of their peers, and other primary-source data. To a certain extent he dramatizes their associations and friendships, perhaps in the name of readability, but he manages to infuse their struggle to articulate their philosophies with a sense of urgency and significance that is very convincing.

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