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The Metaphysical Club
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PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS > 1. THE METAPHYSICAL CLUB ~ June 26th ~ June 30th ~~ Part One - Chapters I ~ (3 - 22); Preface ~ (ix - xii) No-Spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 15, 2013 07:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

For the week of June 26th - June 30th, we are reading the Preface and Part One - Chapter One of The Metaphysical Club.

Our motto at The History Book Club is that it is never too late to begin a book. We are with you the entire way.

The first week's reading assignment is:

Week One - June 26th - June 30th -> Preface and Part One - Chapter ONE, p. ix - xii and 3 - 22
Preface and Part ONE ~ Chapter One - The Politics of Slavery


We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book is being kicked off on June 26th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle. Make sure to pre-order now if you haven't already. Please also patronage your local book stores.

This weekly thread will be opened up on June 24th.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Bentley will be leading this discussion. Assisting Moderator Kathy will be the back up.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand by Louis MenandLouis Menand


REMEMBER NO SPOILERS ON THE WEEKLY NON SPOILER THREADS - ON EACH WEEKLY NON SPOILER THREAD - WE ONLY DISCUSS THE PAGES ASSIGNED OR THE PAGES WHICH WERE COVERED IN PREVIOUS WEEKS. IF YOU GO AHEAD OR WANT TO ENGAGE IN MORE EXPANSIVE DISCUSSION - POST THOSE COMMENTS IN ONE OF THE SPOILER THREADS. THESE CHAPTERS HAVE A LOT OF INFORMATION SO WHEN IN DOUBT CHECK WITH THE CHAPTER OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY TO RECALL WHETHER YOUR COMMENTS ARE ASSIGNMENT SPECIFIC. EXAMPLES OF SPOILER THREADS ARE THE GLOSSARY, THE BIBLIOGRAPHY, THE INTRODUCTION AND THE BOOK AS A WHOLE THREADS.

Notes:

It is always a tremendous help when you quote specifically from the book itself and reference the chapter and page numbers when responding. The text itself helps folks know what you are referencing and makes things clear.

Citations:

If an author or book is mentioned other than the book and author being discussed, citations must be included according to our guidelines. Also, when citing other sources, please provide credit where credit is due and/or the link. There is no need to re-cite the author and the book we are discussing however.

If you need help - here is a thread called the Mechanics of the Board which will show you how:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

Glossary - SPOILER THREAD

Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Bibliography - SPOILER THREAD

There is a Bibliography where books cited in the text are posted with proper citations and reviews. We also post the books that the author used in his research or in his notes. Please also feel free to add to the Bibliography thread any related books, etc with proper citations. No self promotion, please. And please do not place long list of books on the discussion threads. Please add to the bibliography thread where we love to peruse all entries. Make sure you properly cite your additions to make it easier for all.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts - SPOILER THREAD

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Table of Contents and Syllabus:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand by Louis MenandLouis Menand


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 25, 2013 12:57PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Welcome folks to the discussion of The Metaphysical Club.

Message One - on each non spoiler thread - will help you find all of the information that you need for each week's reading.

For Week One - for example, we are reading and discussing the following:

Week One - June 26th - June 30th -> Preface and Part One - Chapter ONE, p. ix - xii and 3 - 22 - Preface and Part ONE ~ Chapter One - The Politics of Slavery

Please only discuss the Preface and Chapter One through page 22 on this thread.

This is a non spoiler thread.

But we will have in this folder a whole bunch of spoiler threads dedicated to all of the pragmatists which I will set up as we read along and on any of the additional spoiler threads - expansive discussions about each of the pragmatists can also take place on any of these respective threads. Spoiler threads are also clearly marked.

If you have any links, or ancillary information about anything dealing with the book itself feel free to add this to our Glossary thread.

If you have lists of books or any related books about the people discussed, or about the events or places discussed or any other ancillary information - please feel free to add all of this to the thread called - Bibliography.

If you would like to plan ahead and wonder what the syllabus is for the reading, please refer to the Table of Contents.

If you would like to write your review of the book and present your final thoughts because maybe you like to read ahead - the spoiler thread where you can do all of that is called Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts. You can also have expansive discussions there.

For all of the above - the links are always provided in message one.

Always go to message one of any thread to find out all of the important information you need.

Bentley will be moderating this book and Kathy will be the backup.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 23, 2013 05:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Make sure that you are familiar with the HBC's rules and guidelines and what is allowed on goodreads and HBC in terms of user content. Also, there is no self promotion, spam or marketing allowed.

Here are the rules and guidelines of the HBC:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

Please on the non spoiler threads: a) Stick to material in the present week's reading.

Also, in terms of all of the threads for discussion here and on the HBC - please be civil.

We want our discussion to be interesting and fun.

Make sure to cite a book using the proper format.

You don't need to cite the Menand book, but if you bring another book into the conversation; please cite it accordingly as required.

Now we can begin....


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 25, 2013 09:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Chapter Summaries and Overview
Preface:

* The Preface introduces the reader to the four main characters of the book: Oliver Wendell Holmes, William James, Charles S. Peirce and John Dewey.

* It gives a brief overview of thinking during the time of the Civil War.

* It gives the beginning of how these four men fashioned their beliefs because of the discoveries of the times.
Part One - Chapter One - The Politics of Slavery:

* Part 1 begins an analysis of the life of Oliver Wendell Holmes.

* It gives detailed background into his life and the decisions he makes that will influence his career until his death.

* Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was an officer in the Union Army and was known to many as Captain Holmes for the remainder of his life.

* Later in his life, he often used military metaphors in his daily conversations, as well as in his opinions and dissents.

* The Civil War started when he was only 20 years old. He was wounded a total of three times during the war (Ball's Bluff, Battle of Antietam, right before the Battle of Chancellorsville).

* He had been drawn to the war by his beliefs. However, during the war he questioned those beliefs and eventually lost those beliefs. The war helped him learn that all ideas have limits.

Part Two

* Louis Menand explains the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. to give the reader an idea of the man who sculpted the Holmes family.

Part Three

* Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s world which he associated with during his early adult life was the Civil War.

* He saw the two sides fighting (Union and the Confederacy), both believing they were each right and the other wrong.

Part Four

* In this part we learn even more about the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

* There is a discussion of both the environment and influences in Holmes' life.

* Holmes' father was discriminatory - yet he held respect for Emerson.

Outcome for Holmes according to the author:

* The author gives quick overview of Oliver Wendell Holmes and the experiences he encountered which led him to help change the beliefs of the entire nation.



message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 25, 2013 01:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Most folks want to know right off the bat - what is the title about? Here is a good posting explaining that.

The Metaphysical Club

by John Shook

The Metaphysical Club was an informal discussion group of scholarly friends, close from their associations with Harvard University, that started in 1871 and continued until spring 1879.

This Club had two primary phases, distinguished from each other by the most active participants and the topics pursued.

The first phase of the Metaphysical Club lasted from 1871 until mid-1875, while the second phase existed from early 1876 until spring 1879. The dominant theme of first phase was pragmatism, while idealism dominated the second phase.

Pragmatism - First Phase:

The "pragmatist" first phase of the Metaphysical Club was organized by Charles Peirce (Harvard graduate and occasional lecturer), Chauncey Wright (Harvard graduate and occasional lecturer), and William James (Harvard graduate and instructor of physiology and psychology).

These three philosophers were then formulating recognizably pragmatist views. Other active members of the "Pragmatist" Metaphysical Club were two more Harvard graduates and local lawyers, Nicholas St. John Green and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who were also advocating pragmatic views of human conduct and law.

Idealist - Second Phase:

The "idealist" second phase of the Metaphysical Club was organized and led by idealists who showed no interest in pragmatism: Thomas Davidson (independent scholar), George Holmes Howison (professor of philosophy at nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and James Elliot Cabot (Harvard graduate and Emerson scholar). There was some continuity between the two phases.

Although Peirce had departed in April 1875 for a year in Europe, and Wright died in September 1875, most of the original members from the first phase were available for a renewed second phase.

By January 1876 the "Idealist" Metaphysical Club (for James still was referring to a metaphysical club in a letter of 10 February 1876) was meeting regularly for discussions first on Hume, then proceeding through Kant and Hegel in succeeding years.

Besides Davidson, Howison, and Cabot, the most active members appear to be William James, Charles Carroll Everett (Harvard graduate and Dean of its Divinity School), George Herbert Palmer (Harvard graduate and professor of philosophy), and Francis Ellingwood Abbott (Harvard graduate and independent scholar).

Other occasional participants include Francis Bowen (Harvard graduate and professor of philosophy), Nicholas St. John Green, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and G. Stanley Hall (Harvard graduate and psychologist).

The Metaphysical Club was a nine-year episode within a much broader pattern of informal philosophical discussion that occurred in the Boston area from the 1850s to the 1880s.

Chauncey Wright, renowned in town for his social demeanor and remarkable intelligence, had been a central participant in various philosophy clubs and study groups dating as early as his own college years at Harvard in the early 1850s.

Wright, Peirce, James, and Green were the most active members of the Metaphysical Club from its inception in 1871.

By mid-1875 the original Metaphysical Club was no longer functioning; James was the strongest connection between the first and second phases, helping Thomas Davidson to collect the members of the "Idealist" Metaphysical Club.

Link to the Hegel Club:

James also was a link to the next philosophical club, the "Hegel Club", which began in fall 1880 in connection with George Herbert Palmer's seminar on Hegel. By winter 1881 the Hegel Club had expanded to include several from the Metaphysical Club, including James, Cabot, Everett, Howison, Palmer, Abbott, Hall, and the newcomer William Torrey Harris who had taken up residence in Concord.

This Hegel Club was in many ways a continuation of the St. Louis Hegelian Society from the late 1850s and 1860s, as Harris, Howison, Davidson, and their Hegelian students had moved east.

The Concord Summer School of Philosophy (1879-1888), under the leadership of Amos Bronson Alcott and energized by the Hegelians, soon brought other young American scholars into the orbit of the Cambridge clubs, such as John Dewey.

The "Pragmatist" Metaphysical Club met on irregular occasions, probably fortnightly during the Club's most active period of fall 1871 to winter 1872, and they usually met in the home of Charles Pierce or William James in Cambridge.

This Club met for four years until mid-1875, when their diverse career demands, extended travels to Europe, and early deaths began to disperse them. The heart of the club was the close bonds between five very unusual thinkers on the American intellectual scene.

Chauncey Wright and Charles Sanders Peirce shared the same scientific interests and outlook, having adopted a positivistic and evolutionary stance, and their common love for philosophical discussion sparked the club's beginnings. Wright's old friend and lawyer Nicholas St. John Green was glad to be included, as was Peirce's good friend William James who had also gone down the road towards empiricism and evolutionism. William James brought along his best friend, the lawyer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who like Green was mounting a resistance to the legal formalism dominating that era. Green brought fellow lawyer Joseph Bangs Warner, and the group also invited two philosophers who had graduated with them from Harvard, Francis Ellingwood Abbott and John Fiske, who were both interested in evolution and metaphysics.

Other occasional members were Henry Ware Putnam, Francis Greenwood Peabody, and William Pepperell Montague.

Activities of the "Pragmatist" Metaphysical Club were recorded only by Peirce, William James, and William's brother Henry James, who all describe intense and productive debates on many philosophical problems.

Both Peirce and James recalled that the name of the club was the "Metaphysical" Club. Peirce suggests that the name indicated their determination to discuss deep scientific and metaphysical issues despite that era's prevailing positivism and agnosticism. A successful "Metaphysical Club" in London was also not unknown to them. Peirce later stated that the club witnessed the birth of the philosophy of pragmatism in 1871, which he elaborated (without using the term 'pragmatism' itself) in published articles in the late 1870s. His own role as the "father of pragmatism" should not obscure, in Peirce's view, the importance of Nicholas Green. Green should be recognized as pragmatism's "grandfather" because, in Peirce's words, Green had "often urged the importance of applying Alexander Bain's definition of belief as 'that upon which a man is prepared to act,' from which 'pragmatism is scarce more than a corollary'." Chauncey Wright also deserves considerable credit, for as both Peirce and James recall, it was Wright who demanded a phenomenalist and fallibilist empiricism as a vital alternative to rationalistic speculation.

The several lawyers in this club took great interest in evolution, empiricism, and Bain's pragmatic definition of belief.

They were also acquainted with James Stephen's A General View of the Criminal Law in England, which also pragmatically declared that people believe because they must act. At the time of the Metaphysical Club, Green and Holmes were primarily concerned with special problems in determining criminal states of mind and general problems of defining the nature of law in a culturally evolutionary way.

Both Green and Holmes made important advances in the theory of negligence which relied on a pragmatic approach to belief and established a "reasonable person" standard. Holmes went on to explore pragmatic definitions of law that look forward to future judicial consequences rather than to past legislative decisions.
(Source: http://www.pragmatism.org/research/me...)


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 25, 2013 08:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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Discussion - Kick-off Question:

You have started reading for the first week and I am sure that you have some "first impressions" - what are they and what are some of the ideas that interested you so far?


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Folks, you can start posting - the thread is open.


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 08:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Second - Discussion Question(s):

The Congress during the time of the Civil War was said to more active than ever before, according to the Preface.

Part 1:
Why do you think the Civil War was a time when Congress was able to be more active?

Part 2:
Why was it necessary for Congress to become a progressive leader during this time?

Part 3:
Do you think government should have been more or less active at this time, knowing what we do now?

Just jump in any time and post - let us kick it off.


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 08:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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Third - Discussion Question (s):

During the time of the Civil War which is where this book begins, the government was allowed to have a more far reaching role in society, becoming more of a leader than simply a group of those who govern.

One of our objectives in discussing the Preface is to talk and elaborate about this transition. What do you think this "far reaching role in society" meant for those living in those times?

a) If you could write a list of what your expectations are for government today, what would they be?

b) Now take yourself back to the time of the Civil War - now what do you think the government's responsibilities were then? Why and how are they different from your perspective today?

c) Every one of us whether we are from the United States of America or another country has an ideal of what government should be and what they should be in charge of - I imagine that these assessments are different possibly from one to another - what do you think government should be in charge of as it relates to you and to the country that you live in? Are there areas today that you think your government should not be involved in and/or should not be interfering? Or do you regard the government's involvement as positive and very helpful? What has pleased you about your government and what has not? Why?

d) Describe what the perfect government might be like. How would the government act and what would be different?

e) Do you think that the government at the time of the Civil War made folks upset with this decision to go to war with the South? Is there anything about your current government wherever you happen to live that makes you upset today?

f) During the Civil War the government in the United States transitioned to being a leader - was that a good thing then and is it a good thing now? Why or why not?


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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Fourth - Discussion Ideas and Themes of the Book

While reading the book - try to take some notes about the ideas presented along the following lines:

1. Science
2. Religion
3. Philosophy
4. Psychology
5. Sociology
6. Evolution
7. Pragmatism


There are very good reasons why this book is not only called The Metaphysical Club but also after the colon: A Story of Ideas in America and the purpose of our discussion of this book is "to discuss those ideas".

Don't just read my posts - but jump right in - the more you post and the more you contribute - the more you will get out of the conversation and the read.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 09:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Preface:

The author stated:

"It Is A Remarkable Fact about the United States that it fought a civil war without undergoing a change in its form of government. The Constitution was not abandoned during the American Civil War; elections were not suspended; there was no coup d'etat.

The war was fought to preserve the system of government that
had been established at the nation's founding -- to prove, in fact, that the system was worth preserving, that the idea of democracy had not failed. This is the meaning of the Gettysburg Address and of the great fighting cry of the North: "Union."

And the system was preserved: the union did survive. But in almost every other respect, the United States became a different country. The war alone did not make America modern, but the war marks the birth of modern America."

Questions for Discussion:

a) How is it remarkable that there was no change of government even though our country fought a Civil War? Compare the Civil War that occurred in other countries around the same time as the Civil War here or even the Civil Wars and Revolutions taking place today. What are the similarities and what are the differences? Why was this so unique in a way and maybe still is? How could it have ended differently?

b) What was there about our Constitution and our ideals as a democracy that held us together after the fact? What was the impact upon the South and upon the country in general. What were the forces that kept us together and how did that "Union" change from the Union and the United States ideal at the time of the founding fathers when they worked to "form a perfect union". Was it perfect? Is it perfect now? Is it the same or different?

c) Why does the author state that the Union survived and did not change in its components but it changed internally and in every way conceivable - it changed its "historic past", "its present" and most importantly it changed "its future". Why do you think the war marked the birth of modern America?


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

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Folks just jump in and tell us your thoughts - there are no wrong answers.


Janice (JG) I haven't really studied much about the Civel War era, or the history of politics and government in America in general (my interests in American history lie mostly on the cultural and social aspects of life, especially for women, in America). Menand's book will be an eye opener for me.

Many of Bentley's questions regard the behavior of the government, and people's expectations of the role of the government, both then and now. My first reaction to the chapter on the politics of slavery was similar to a kind of culture shock, and I had to wonder how I was going to be able to understand any of this unless I was able to find a way to relate to the thinking of the time.

Before I can examine the reach of government during the Civil War I feel I have to step back into a kind of consciousness that allows for the idea of slavery as a *given*. I'm not sure what kinds of comparisons we are going to be able to come up with, but I believe it might be a good idea to try to understand the paradigm shifts -- of consciousness, of belief, of perception -- that, hopefully, is what I think this club encountered.

From what I understand, except for the Quakers, the idea of owning and manipulating another human being was an accepted moral premise that was really no more than an intellectual debate when it was confronted. How am I to know what kinds of concepts, decisions, and judgements originate from minds that see through a lens that seems to have no awareness of the value of a human life?

I don't want to sound like I am in a moral outrage here, because I'm not.

A similar example of the way perception (how we perceive things) can trap us or liberate us might be the story of Monet's first paintings of haystacks. He painted dozens of pictures of haystacks in a field, using all the different impressions of light as the hours of the day shifted, and as the seasons shifted -- all of these things affecting the way the light fell upon those haystacks. When people first visited the exhibition of these paintings of haystacks, they didn't know what they were looking at because they had expectations of the form of art where all objects were defined, not by light but by determined outlines.

When they encountered Monet's haystacks, they didn't know what they were seeing, they looked like ambiguous blobs of paint. Of course now, when we look at the paintings, of course they look like haystacks... because our perception or view of the world changed dramatically with the introduction of this new idea. People learned to "see" (think, perceive) differently.

Now, to get to the point. I'm not at all sure what the expectation of government was in the mid-1800's because I don't know what people's perception of government might have been. That's where I think I need to start before I can judge that time, or make any comparisons.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
The Gettysburg Address:

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
(Source: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_centu...)


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

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The Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I
Section 1
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2
1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

2: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.2 The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

4: When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3
1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,3 for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.4

3: No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

4: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

7: Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4
1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

2: The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December,5 unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5
1: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

2: Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

3: Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

4: Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6
1: The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.6 They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

2: No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section 7
1: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

3: Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8
1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13: To provide and maintain a Navy;

14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9
1: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

4: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.7

5: No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles expo


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Bentley and Janice George, would it be helpful if I suggest:

A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America

[bookcover:A Government Out of Sight: The M..."


Possibly in the bibliography Bryan -could you move it (see messages 1 and 2 on this thread) - I don't think it is necessary for this discussion here - but thank you.

We are really just having a hypothetical conversation. Folks can read further if they like after they complete the book.


message 17: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Just got a copy of the book from the library yesterday and haven completed the first assignment yet.

In general I like the idea of the Metaphysical Club. Three is much to be said in favor of an intellectual discussion group, demolishing preconceived ideas and creating a mental reconstruction project to rebuild with newly constructed, rigorously examined material.

Menand's primary thesis is that the ideas advocated by Holmes, James, Pierce and Dewey changed the way people thought, lived, learned, understood themselves and people who were different from themselves. This should be our focus as the story unfolds.

Menand's comments about economic developments and the evolving of what we call modern America are tertiary, though they do describe changes in the way we lived. Civil War historians have fairly commonly taken note of them and many of these developments had their roots in American soil well before the Civil War. A prime example though, can be found in the growth of the military industrial complex that developed as production began on twenty armored steam boats by private industry under a government contract on the bank of the Ohio River. This industry was created ex nihilo where only mud, water and bushes existed prior to the creation of war. Government and industry are important impellers of economic development and change but the have a far less impact than the impulses of mind upon the way we think and hence behave. This I think is the real import of the Metaphysical Club.

I lived and worked in Savannah, Georgia for three years and was a member of Philo Café, a philosophical discussion group (broadly construed). It taught me the importance of shared ideas and community understanding. Menand tells us that these four philosophers all saw ideas as tools which were developed not by single people working along but rather by groups of individuals, in a sense invoking Plato's emphasis upon dialog. Perhaps we will develop some sense of that feeling as we peruse this book.

I wonder though how the work would have bee affected had Menand began his study with the Hedge Club. That omission, I suspect, sadly diminishes his work.


message 18: by Tomerobber (new) - added it

Tomerobber | 334 comments Okay, this is what I have come away with so far . . . the purpose of this book,

The Civil War swept away the slave civilization of the South, but it swept away almost the whole intellectual culture of the North along with it. It took nearly half a century for the United States to develop a culture to replace it, to find a set of ideas, and a way of thinking, that would help people cope with the conditions of modern life. That struggle is the subject of this book.
iBooks eBook Ed. p. 11/1223

My interpretation of the concept of democracy is that it's purpose is a structure of ideas and beliefs created with the goal of providing a way for a group of people to live and work together as a unit at the same time affording them the security of allowing them to be individuals in their own right.

Of course that presumes the belief that each member of the group is deemed to have equal value within the guidelines accepted by the group.

To me the Civil War was a test of those guidelines . . . would we as a country be able to put those ideals as adopted by the government (we the people) into practice? The structure of our government was already in place . . . it's how we thought about what it stood for that was changing.

And the concept that we as a country continue to evolve and thrive provides proof that we must be doing something right . . .


message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 03:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Janice George (JG) wrote: "I haven't really studied much about the Civel War era, or the history of politics and government in America in general (my interests in American history lie mostly on the cultural and social aspect..."

Janice - you have written a very thoughtful first post - let me just go through it and give you some pointers since you told me that this is your first discussion and I want you to get involved.

Janice said:

I haven't really studied much about the Civil War era, or the history of politics and government in America in general (my interests in American history lie mostly on the cultural and social aspects of life, especially for women, in America). Menand's book will be an eye opener for me.

Bentley responded to the above:

Janice there are no wrong answers - we are just having fun discussing the book and our ideas. You do not have to be an authority here - we are very interested in hearing what you have to say hypothetically. You do not have to be an expert. And your background regarding the cultural and social aspects of life are a perfect framework to take a stab at the questions. Menand's book will be interesting for all of us but your life experiences are what you should base your answers on and the reading of the book. Right now the questions really are dealing with the Preface today. But we will move through the reading gradually and we are here to discuss the ideas as we go along.

Janice said:

Many of Bentley's questions regard the behavior of the government, and people's expectations of the role of the government, both then and now. My first reaction to the chapter on the politics of slavery was similar to a kind of culture shock, and I had to wonder how I was going to be able to understand any of this unless I was able to find a way to relate to the thinking of the time.

Bentley responded to the above:

The preface does deal with the role of government and how it was then before the Civil War - what changes occurred with that role after the Civil War was in full swing and the after effects of the war after it ended. And there was a statement made that from that point on that America had changed. And that the Civil War and its aftermath marked the beginning of modern America. We asked you to comment on the differences as stated by the author and hypothesize what he meant about the government and the birth of a modern day America.

Janice wrote:

Before I can examine the reach of government during the Civil War I feel I have to step back into a kind of consciousness that allows for the idea of slavery as a *given*. I'm not sure what kinds of comparisons we are going to be able to come up with, but I believe it might be a good idea to try to understand the paradigm shifts -- of consciousness, of belief, of perception -- that, hopefully, is what I think this club encountered.

Bentley responded to the above:

Yes, the idea of slavery as a given was a reality in the South and in many other parts of the country. I think we need to wrap our heads around this idea and what it must have been like for both African Americans and Caucasians. In the preface, which we are discussing right now - the author made many comparisons about life in America and the role of government before and after the War - these are the things we are discussing. Right now during the time frame of the preface - Oliver Wendell Holmes is in the thick of battles and is being wounded three times. The Metaphysical Club has not formed (in the Preface).

Janice wrote:

From what I understand, except for the Quakers, the idea of owning and manipulating another human being was an accepted moral premise that was really no more than an intellectual debate when it was confronted. How am I to know what kinds of concepts, decisions, and judgements originate from minds that see through a lens that seems to have no awareness of the value of a human life?

Bentley replied to the above:

In a discussion of a book, we try to take what the author is stating was the situation at the time and discuss the "what is" in terms of the what the writer is saying was the case - right now we are talking about the Preface.

Janice stated:

I don't want to sound like I am in a moral outrage here, because I'm not.

Bentley responded to the above:

I am happy to hear your ideas.

Janice stated:

A similar example of the way perception (how we perceive things) can trap us or liberate us might be the story of Monet's first paintings of haystacks. He painted dozens of pictures of haystacks in a field, using all the different impressions of light as the hours of the day shifted, and as the seasons shifted -- all of these things affecting the way the light fell upon those haystacks. When people first visited the exhibition of these paintings of haystacks, they didn't know what they were looking at because they had expectations of the form of art where all objects were defined, not by light but by determined outlines.

When they encountered Monet's haystacks, they didn't know what they were seeing, they looked like ambiguous blobs of paint. Of course now, when we look at the paintings, of course they look like haystacks... because our perception or view of the world changed dramatically with the introduction of this new idea. People learned to "see" (think, perceive) differently.

Bentley responded to the above:

A nice analogy

Janice stated:

Now, to get to the point. I'm not at all sure what the expectation of government was in the mid-1800's because I don't know what people's perception of government might have been. That's where I think I need to start before I can judge that time, or make any comparisons.

Bentley responded to the above:

But you do know what the author is stating. He stated how government was responding and how it had responded in the past and what it was doing differently and why. How do you feel about what the author is telling you about that period in our history and their attitudes and how they were proceeding. What were your thoughts when you were reading it. We do not expect anybody to know exactly what life was like back then and/or the intimate goings on of the government then. You could take what the author has stated and make an analogy to the government today and how things have evolved because of what happened before and make some assumptions. That is all - we are discussing the book and your feelings about what the author is telling you and what you can extrapolate about the past which led to our present.


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 03:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Jeffrey wrote: "Just got a copy of the book from the library yesterday and haven completed the first assignment yet.

In general I like the idea of the Metaphysical Club. Three is much to be said in favor of an i..."


Jeff I like the fact that you are thinking about this from the perspective of what it must have felt like to form such a club and what it must have meant. Remember in this thread we are only this week talking about the Preface and anything that is in The Politics of Slavery (Chapter One).

I think your experience in your philosophical group will give you great insight into the bigger picture of the ideas presented and how they relate to you and to mankind in general.

Probably he could not include everything. But I think your approach to this book is a sound one and I am looking forward to hearing your ideas and reading your posts. Take a stab at the questions that I have posted so far which really deal with the Preface.


message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 26, 2013 03:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Tomerobber wrote: "Okay, this is what I have come away with so far . . . the purpose of this book,

The Civil War swept away the slave civilization of the South, but it swept away almost the whole intellectual cultur..."


Hello Tomerobber -

I like the fact that your response began with a citation - great way to add to the discussion:

You included the following quote:

The Civil War swept away the slave civilization of the South, but it swept away almost the whole intellectual culture of the North along with it. It took nearly half a century for the United States to develop a culture to replace it, to find a set of ideas, and a way of thinking, that would help people cope with the conditions of modern life. That struggle is the subject of this book.
iBooks eBook Ed. p. 11/1223


And you stated:

My interpretation of the concept of democracy is that it's purpose is a structure of ideas and beliefs created with the goal of providing a way for a group of people to live and work together as a unit at the same time affording them the security of allowing them to be individuals in their own right.

Of course that presumes the belief that each member of the group is deemed to have equal value within the guidelines accepted by the group.

To me the Civil War was a test of those guidelines . . . would we as a country be able to put those ideals as adopted by the government (we the people) into practice? The structure of our government was already in place . . . it's how we thought about what it stood for that was changing.

And the concept that we as a country continue to evolve and thrive provides proof that we must be doing something right . . .


Bentley responded to the above:

A tremendous response and effort - I like seeing folks use quotes from the book as they read - it is very powerful and folks can immediately understand what you are referencing. Great approach.

You raise a powerful point that a democracy should "allow them to be individuals in their own right".
Of course that had not occurred and really did not take place until Lyndon Johnson was President so many years later - but at least "slavery" was on the table and who we included when we spoke of "we the people" had to change and eventually it did - but what is more shocking is how long it took our country and our government to get to that point. Menand makes an excellent point that it took nearly half a century - actually I think it took longer.


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Folks just jump in and tackle any of the ideas that surprised you while reading the Preface and/or tackle any of the ideas and questions that I posed or comment on what others have said before you.

Just make sure to keep within the framework of this week's reading assignment - if you want to go beyond - just post your idea or comments on one of the spoiler threads. We are delighted to read all posts and comments.


message 23: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom Bentley asked why we think the civil war marked the start of modern America. And Menand wrote

The Civil War swept away the slave civilization of the South, but it swept away almost the whole intellectual culture of the North along with it. It took nearly half a century for the United States to develop a culture to replace it, to find a set of ideas, and a way of thinking, that would help people cope with the conditions of modern life.


I think that, then, the civil war did not mark the start of "modern" America. I think we get that notion partly from the fact that (at least, if you are about my age) when you first studied US history the Civil War was a neat dividing point: Obviously monumentally important, but, in addition, roughly halfway through our history. 1776-1865 = 89 years; 1865 + 89 = 1954; I was in high school in the 1970s. So, still pretty even.

But I think a better division of American history might be: 1776-1865, 1865-1918, 1918-now.

To me, "modern" America would mean America being (and viewing itself) as a world power, one that is engaged in the world. We weren't that in 1865, in 1918 it was.

Also, "modern" America would be one that is in (pretty close to) its current geography. In 1861, that wasn't so. In 1918, it was. Between 1861 and 1918 the USA added Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia, Colorado, both Dakotas, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona as states. Since then, only Alaska and Hawaii.

Intellectually, I would say that the primary question in pre-civil war America was slavery. This was the "peculiar institution". This was what let Samuel Johnson remark "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among drivers of Negroes?"


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Yes, he is an excellent writer and I am sure that things will get even more thought provoking as we move through the book. The big situation is of course the Civil War and its affect on the country (North and South) as we begin the book.


message 25: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Why do you think the Civil War was a time when Congress was able to be more active?

With the absence of the secessionists at least two manor changes took place. With sectional opposition now gone, legislators could now act upon projects that would never have passed the pre-war Congress. For example internal improvements could now pass when those who wanted a reduction in import taxes were now gone. High taxes would be needed to pay for these improvements in the absence of any income tax and the South interpreted import taxes as favoring Northern industry, keeping prices high at the expense of Southerners. A high protective tariff was passed. Public land was sold to promote railroad expansion. A homestead act was passed, land was given to the states for the creation of agricultural colleges, a national bank was developed. A new state of mind based upon governmental activism developed.

When ending slavery became a war aim, government now drove social change. The war economy demanded change because, after all there was a war on, and the end of sectionalism opened minds to new ways of thinking about things.


Clayton Brannon | 128 comments There are it seems like millions upon millions of civil war scholars but very few who actually take on the ideology of those times. I am enjoy this way of looking at those who were truly abolitionism. This first section dealing with Holmes & Emerson is fascinating as I have read very little on these two men. I have read a lot of Emerson's works but nothing on Holmes. I hope I can contribute something to the conversation in this discussion. I will certainly try and hope all will bear with me if I sometimes make amateur errors in thoughts.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
All, I will get to back to all of you who have posted later today - but I do want to move on to discussing Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr and Sr and the relationship to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Discussion Questions: What are your first impressions of the man who would later be a justice on the Supreme Court, your first impressions of his father - the writer and of course the famous relationship at that time with Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson - What a fascinating time to have lived in this country.

Also at any time go back to any of the questions that I have posted and respond to those and/or post memorable quotes from the reading that you would like to discuss expressing your views on the ideas presented, your views supporting or against.

All ideas are always welcome here if they are done with respect and civility and there are no right answers - just your thoughts and opinions.


message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
We may want to also discuss a bit about Transcendentalism:

Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement that was developed during the late 1820s and 1830s in the Eastern region of the United States as a protest to the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School.

Among the transcendentalists' core beliefs was the "inherent goodness of both people and nature".

Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual.

They had faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent.

It is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.


Origins
Transcendentalism first arose among New England congregationalists, who differed from orthodox Calvinism on two issues.

They rejected predestination, and they emphasized the unity instead of the trinity of God.

Following the skepticism of David Hume, the transcendentalists took the stance that empirical proofs of religion were not possible.

Transcendentalism developed as a reaction against 18th Century rationalism, John Locke's philosophy of Sensualism, and the predestinationism of New England Calvinism. It is fundamentally a variety of diverse sources such as Hindu texts like the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, various religions, and German idealism.

Emerson's Nature
The publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1836 essay - Nature is usually considered the watershed moment at which transcendentalism became a major cultural movement.

Emerson wrote in his 1837 speech "The American Scholar": "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds... A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men."

Emerson closed the essay by calling for a revolution in human consciousness to emerge from the brand new idealist philosophy:

So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. ...Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.

The Transcendental Club
In the same year, transcendentalism became a coherent movement with the founding of the Transcendental Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 8, 1836, by prominent New England intellectuals including George Putnam (1807–78; the Unitarian minister in Roxbury), Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Frederick Henry Hedge. From 1840, the group published frequently in their journal The Dial, along with other venues.

Second Wave of Transcendentalists
By the late 1840s, Emerson believed the movement was dying out, and even more so after the death of Margaret Fuller in 1850.

"All that can be said", Emerson wrote, "is that she represents an interesting hour and group in American cultivation".

There was, however, a second wave of transcendentalists, including Moncure Conway, Octavius Brooks Frothingham, Samuel Longfellow and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn.

Notably, the transgression of the spirit, most often evoked by the poet's prosaic voice, is said to endow in the reader a sense of purposefulness. This is the underlying theme in the majority of transcendentalist essays and papers—all of which are centered on subjects which assert a love for individual expression.

Major Transcendentalist Figures
The major figures in the movement were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Margaret Fuller and Amos Bronson Alcott.

Other prominent transcendentalists included Louisa May Alcott, Charles Timothy Brooks, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Christopher Pearse Cranch, Walt Whitman, John Sullivan Dwight, Convers Francis, William Henry Furness, Frederic Henry Hedge, Sylvester Judd, Theodore Parker, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, George Ripley, Thomas Treadwell Stone, Emily Dickinson, and Jones Very.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcen...

More:
http://transcendentalism-legacy.tamu.edu
http://www.transcendentalists.com
http://womenshistory.about.com/bltran...
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ihas/icon/tra...
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/tra...
Jones Very (no photo)
George Ripley (no photo)
Thomas Treadwell Stone (no photo)
Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (no photo)
Frederic Henry Hedge (no photo)
William Henry Furness (no photo)
Convers Francis (no photo)
John Sullivan Dwight (no photo)
James Freeman Clarke (no photo)
William H. Channing (no photo)
William E. Channing (no photo)
Orestes Brownson (no photo)
Charles Timothy Brooks (no photo)
Moncure Conway (no photo)
Octavius Brooks Frothingham (no photo)
Samuel Longfellow (no photo)
Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (no photo)
George Putnam (no photo)
Ralph Waldo EmersonRalph Waldo Emerson
Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson
Theodore ParkerTheodore Parker
Sylvester JuddSylvester Judd
John MuirJohn Muir
Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman
Christopher Pearse CranchChristopher Pearse Cranch
Louisa May AlcottLouisa May Alcott
Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau
Margaret FullerMargaret Fuller
Amos Bronson AlcottAmos Bronson Alcott
David HumeDavid Hume
The American Scholar; Self-Reliance. Compensation by Ralph Waldo Emerson Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson both by Ralph Waldo EmersonRalph Waldo Emerson


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jun 28, 2013 08:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Questions for Discussion:

What are the similarities and/or differences between the philosophical thinking and beliefs of the Pragmatists/Metaphysical Club and those of the Transcendentalists/Transcendentalist Club?

How did Emerson's belief system differ from that of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr's and/or Sr.?

Remember we are discussing major ideas and events right off the bat:

Ideas:
a) Metaphysics
b) Pragmatiism
c) Transcendalism
d) The Metaphysical Club
e) The Transcendentalist Club
f) Slavery

Events:
The American Civl War

People:
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Unionists and the North
Confederacy and the South
Abolitionists

Government:
The Constitution
Bill of Rights


Matthew | 112 comments I was interested in the idea that before the Civil War, the concepts of Union and Abolition were seen as opposing viewpoints. Daniel Webster's stirring speeches in favor of keeping the country together were understood as being a defense of permitting slavery in the South. Abolitionists understood that abolishing slavery would cause the South to secede, but was okay with that.

After the Civil War -- which was fought for both abolition and union (to different degrees by different people or factions) -- it is easy to assume that Unionists and Abolitionists were allies. In reality, it appears they were not.


Janice (JG) There are two comments by Menand in the Preface that gave me pause. One was about the North taking advantage of the secession of the southern states "to set the terms for national expansion without interference from the South." I couldn't help but find a kind of comparison to the latest Voting Rights Act controversy, the act which singles out states from the South to come under Federal oversight on voting rights laws, and which the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional. It seems a struggle for control between the North and the South still exists.

The other comment Menand made that touches upon my still-formulating thoughts about the paradigm shift created by this war -
To this extent, the outcome of the Civil War was a validation, as Lincoln had hoped it would be, of the American experiment. Except for one thing, which is that people who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their disagreements by killing one another.


Peter says he feels that the true defining moment of change toward a modern America was around 1918 rather than in the 1860's. I think the above quote, however, addresses a deeply fundamental issue confronted by the citizens of the country during the Civil War which changed how we, as Americans, thought of ourselves and saw ourselves as a 'collective.' I do believe that the Civil War forced a consciousness upon the Americans of that time that would no longer allow for a civil war to ever take place on the continent of the contiguous 48 states again.

So, in a sense, the idea of the value of human life beyond that of commodity or economy or political policy extended not only to blacks, but to a new national awareness. It seems the Civil War allowed us to draw a line in the sand -- we will not do this to each other as human beings again. "We the People" came of age.


Janice (JG) Bentley posed the question of what might be the difference between Transcendentalism and Pragmatism. According to Wikipedia, "Emerson suggested that the goal of a purely transcendental outlook on life was impossible to attain in practice..." while on the other hand, if I have understood the principles of Pragmatism (which I'm not sure I have), Pragmatism is a sort of Applied Philosophy that rests on the premise that if it works for you (whatever it is) in practice, it's good. This is my very raw and clumsy summary of Pragmatism :)

Wiki source
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcen...

(I'm not at all sure if I have cited that correctly)


Matthew | 112 comments To this extent, the outcome of the Civil War was a validation, as Lincoln had hoped it would be, of the American experiment. Except for one thing, which is that people who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their disagreements by killing one another.

There was an interesting anecdote in Chapter One, that I felt being used as some sort of emblematic of sort larger point, but I'm not sure I'm with him. I'm talking about the incident where Holmes admits black and female applicants to Harvand Medical School in 1850 because the applicants are fully qualified. Then, the students revolt, and in the end he permits their admissions to generally be revoked. The point being made, I think, is that Holmes's Pragmatism would let him get sucked up by the Idealism of equality.

It seemed more likely, though, that Holmes simply didn't care very much. He was happy to be egalitarian, but not if it meant so many people being agree at him.

Or, perhaps, it was an Idealism that promoted Majoritarianism about all. The majority will was against racial and gender equality, so Holmes decided that the majority will should take precendence of his single viewpoint. Many people today distinguish "Democracy" from "Mere Majoritarianism." There is, I guess, a conflicting viewpoint in which "Mere Majoritarianism" is actually preferable, even if it tramples on the rights of minorities. Holmes might be have been one of those majoritarians.


message 34: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Bentley:

What are the similarities and/or differences between the philosophical thinking and beliefs of the Pragmatists/Metaphysical Club and those of the Transcendentalists/Transcendentalist Club?


In general it is impossible to determine what transcendentalism was as a philosophy because there was no common agreement among transcendentalists on that subject.

Emerson: each person must find “an original relation to the universe.” For the transcendentalists knowledge was an internal quest. It did not involve questions and answers in a Platonic dialogue with fellow citizens in the Agora. It was an internal affair which depended upon ourselves and our relationship with the natural world. Frederic Henry Hedge first directed Transcendental attention inward after studying Kant. According to Emerson the natural world interacts through spirit and spirit derives from mind. Thoreau, of course, found his font of knowledge while living in his own hand built shack on the shores of Walden pond.

The Transcendentalists believed social reform began with the individual. We must reform ourselves before we can join any movements to reform society. The ideal was that if each of us reformed ourselves we wouldn’t need a system of justice based upon law. In practice they recognized we needed a better government until we became better citizens; however, a democratic government wasn’t a mechanism for achieving consensus but rather a system that tolerated disagreement. We can co-exist with others when we allow the freedom to civically disagree. A democratic society must allow the individual to disagree.

Pragmatism set its goal as overcoming the dichotomy between the empirical world as it is and the ethical, moral imperative. It was offered as an analytical method for solving philosophical disputes based upon understanding the effects of a thesis being true and its anti-thesis being true. Philosophy proceeds toward knowledge, like science, by a process of testing. We form thesis T1 and conclude it has consequences X, Y and Z. Then we consider T2 with its consequences. Then we determine the significance of those consequences for ourselves. If the community of Philosophers reaches general agreement as to which set of consequences is better then we say that theory is true. Dewey contended that our experience was based upon more than just sense data and includes our history of inferences and conclusions drawn from life, books and other people. The distinction between sense data and conclusions drawn from it was just a philosophical distortion. Sense data is not the primitive fact upon which we build knowledge but rather is one part of our experience which we use to test belief. The conclusions we draw from experience, both deductive and inductive are all parts of our experience.

The differences between both approaches were substantial both in focus and methodology. The Transcendentalists has an individual focus, based their conclusions upon the genius of the individual thinker, and recognized disagreement as an acceptable outcome. The Pragmatists adopted a method that could be shared with the community of thinkers, sought agreement and validated both the method and their conclusions upon its ability to produce agreement.


message 35: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Matthew:

There was an interesting anecdote in Chapter One, that I felt being used as some sort of emblematic of sort larger point, but I'm not sure I'm with him. I'm talking about the incident where Holmes admits black and female applicants to Harvard Medical School in 1850 ...

It may have been a good example of pragmatism. Holmes may well have believed in equal treatment and in the value of medical training. But if he persisted in his training the school would suffer and possibly close. He may have understood that some white physicians would not treat black patients or might treat them less well and thought it would be best to train some black physicians. But if the school were closed no physicians would be trained, therefore the purpose of admitting black physicians would be defeated and if no physicians were trained the larger purpose of the school would be defeated. The logical conclusion would then be to remove the black students until such time as people could be persuaded of the wisdom of training black physicians along with whites.


message 36: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom Regarding Emerson, I found the notion of "self-reliance" as being like a matchstick standing by itself quite appealing. There is no such thing as self-reliance. In one obvious sense, none of us grow all our own food (Emerson surely did not). Even philosophically, though, we all rely on other ideas, even if only to have something to oppose: For example, I am an atheist, but I sometimes say "the God I don't believe in is Jewish" to express the fact that I was raised as a Jew.

The types of thoughts Emerson could have had depended on the place and time he lived. The title of the chapter is "the politics of slavery" - but there is no "politics of slavery" today (at least not in the sense meant in the book). Emerson could not, e.g. have worried about the influence of computers on society: There were no computers.


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 01, 2013 09:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Peter - you have some interesting views on "self-reliance". Many folks during the early days of the nation grew their own food and had to be self reliant or they would not survive. We have grown lazy and not very talented and are "consumers". I wonder what will happen to social interaction with the influx of texting, computer games, reliance on iPads versus giving attention to conversation and social activities - will we change as a species? Concord, Massachusetts was a different place than NYC. And I think Emerson was talking more about self-sufficiency - like recycling, not wasting food/water, environmentalist concerns, whole foods, living from the land - a waste not - want not mentality. Many of the Transcendentalists did try to grow their own food - - only what they needed.

I disagree about the title and I believe there was a politics that had infiltrated the idea of slavery. Not that these folks were even concerned about civil liberties but it certainly became a lightning rod for everything that went wrong with the country at that time.

I think folks think of this as being a North and South issue but it was not - it was a country wide issue. It was at this time a very big deal even in Indiana and it was very much a political one to boot for the entire country. Everybody had their take on this,

http://www.in.gov/history/3995.htm

Also, Emerson saw conformity as being the chief vice, the opposite or “aversion” of the virtue of “self-reliance.”

Enerson stated that "we conform when we pay unearned respect to clothing and other symbols of status, when we show “the foolish face of praise” or the “forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us”

Emerson criticizes our conformity even to our own past actions-when they no longer fit the needs or aspirations of the present. This is the context in which he states that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, philosophers and divines”

There is wise and there is foolish consistency, and it is foolish to be consistent if that interferes with the “main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, …the upbuilding of a man”

Note: Source: - Quote - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, philosophers, and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do." —Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist and social critic (Self-Reliance).

I think what was most interesting was the following statement by Emerson:

“Self Reliance” condemns virtues that are really “penances”), and the philanthropy of abolitionists who display an idealized “love” for those far away, but are full of hatred for those close by

Emerson is talking about the slaves in the South and the fact that these same Abolitionists are full of hatred for their own neighbors yet have an idealized love for the slaves who are "far away".


message 38: by Kathy (last edited Jul 03, 2013 11:42AM) (new) - added it

Kathy  | 180 comments "It Is A Remarkable Fact about the United States that it fought a civil war without undergoing a change in its form of government."

I have to disagree with this assertion. Our form of govt. prior to the Civil War was democratic where every eligible citizen participated equally through elected representatives in the creation of laws. The South decided with a majority of their elected representatives to dissolve their attachment to the United States once the citizens of the North decided to ignore laws that had been enacted by Congress. The remainder of the United States then invaded the South as if it were still part of the US. To this day in the South, you will still hear The Civil War called "The War for Southern Independence" and "The War of Northern Aggression". I would say that with the invasion of the South and the suspension of habeas corpus we took our first steps toward a police state.

To this day, it seems that with each new conflict or war we lose more of our liberties and more state rights all in the name of protection.


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Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
Kathy, I have to agree that what you stated in message 39 is very much the Southern view.

And to tell you the truth - the Unionists did not much care about what the South did nor not do with its slaves or the African American population as much as this would shock all of us today - it was not shocking then or not acceptable. They viewed the Abolitionists as being a bit wacky. And remember too the North was dependent upon a steady flow of cotton for its manufacturing facilities it had in Lowell and in the Boston area. They were partners with the South and did not want the slaves to be freed because it would mean that there would be cheaper labor available - sound familiar to what has continued to happen today with other countries and illegal immigrants.

I think what tipped the balance was the South wanting the North to be a traffic cop for catching fugitive slaves and sending them back.

And there is a lot of truth in what you have said and posted. Nowadays, some of the historic events and personages of that era have been remarkably turned into America's folk heroes (if they deserved it or not).

Most folks want to believe that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that really is not exactly the case.

Thank you for your thoughtful post.


message 40: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (Kathy_H) Tomerobber wrote: "Okay, this is what I have come away with so far . . . the purpose of this book,

The Civil War swept away the slave civilization of the South, but it swept away almost the whole intellectual cultur..."
(page x of the Preface)

I am doing a re-read of this week's assignment. I am wondering how, or why was the intellectual culture of the North swept away? I am hoping Menand answers this in the book.


message 41: by Clayton (last edited Jul 04, 2013 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Clayton Brannon | 128 comments The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller's Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States, 1853-1861Frederick Law Olmsted Here is a great read on how the south really was prior to the war. It is a first hand account of how things really were for slave & master versus the myth of the old south propagated in later years. If there was any intellectual culture in the south it was held by only a few men and those were mostly schooled at northern institution. Hope this is not off the subject. I have tried to get a photo show but this is all I can get to work using the add book/author link.


message 42: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 37670 comments Mod
He does Kathy.


message 43: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Kathy wrote:

I would say that with the invasion of the South and the suspension of habeas corpus we took our first steps toward a police state.

You of course realize that the first Confederate Congress also suspended habeas corpus on Feb 27th. 1862. A good source for the history of Confederate government is Emory M. Thomas, The Confederate Nation:1861-1865.

The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865 by Emory M. Thomas

Emory M. Thomas


message 44: by Dale (last edited Jul 06, 2013 01:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dale Wade | 13 comments I really enjoyed the Emerson connection to both Holmes Sr. & Jr. My favorite quote is from the author himself, "It was not a matter of choosing sides. It was a matter of rising above the whole concept of sideness." (p. 22) Whoa, very Zen.


message 45: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (Kathy_H) Dale wrote: "I really enjoyed the Emerson connection to both Holmes Sr. & Jr. My favorite quote is from the author himself, "It was not a matter of choosing sides. It was a matter of rising above the whole conc..."

Yes, I really am enjoying Menand's writing.


Matthew | 112 comments Kathy:

The South decided with a majority of their elected representatives to dissolve their attachment to the United States once the citizens of the North decided to ignore laws that had been enacted by Congress. The remainder of the United States then invaded the South as if it were still part of the US.

Bentley:

Most folks want to believe that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that really is not exactly the case.

I think this is cutting the point a bit thin. The South seceded for the purpose of maintaining slavery (and the "ignored laws" referenced involved slavery), and the North attacked for the purpose of preserving the Union (and, secondarily and subsequently, to end slavery).

Saying that the war was fought over slavery may omit some additional relevant elements, but it is broadly speaking true.


message 47: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments In reply to message 47, it should be noted that each of the seceding states issued an official statement through their state legislatures of the causes that led them to their unconstitutional attempts to withdraw from the government of the United States. These are the opening sentences quoted from the Georgia declaration of causes:

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

The last clause, of course, is a reference to the supposed right to spread slavery into the territories. I am inclined to believe that Georgia legislators had some understanding of why their state actually passed the ordinance of succession.

I think we can all agree that the Republican policy was initially to exclude slavery from the territories and leave it in place where it already existed until, later in the war, it became a war policy to end slavery in all the rebellious states when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.


message 48: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Taylor (jatta97) | 75 comments Here is a citation for the Georgia Ordinance of Secession:

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_centu...


message 49: by Dale (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dale Wade | 13 comments Matthew wrote: "Kathy:

The South decided with a majority of their elected representatives to dissolve their attachment to the United States once the citizens of the North decided to ignore laws that had been enac..."


Matthew wrote: "Kathy:

The South decided with a majority of their elected representatives to dissolve their attachment to the United States once the citizens of the North decided to ignore laws that had been enac..."


Matthew wrote: "Kathy:

The South decided with a majority of their elected representatives to dissolve their attachment to the United States once the citizens of the North decided to ignore laws that had been enac..."


I agree that it was not all about slavery. Slavery was only the red herring for the war. The underlying catalyst was the politics of economics. The South knew that sustaining its level of wealth depended upon cheap labor that the slaves provided.


message 50: by Dale (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dale Wade | 13 comments Peter wrote: "Regarding Emerson, I found the notion of "self-reliance" as being like a matchstick standing by itself quite appealing. There is no such thing as self-reliance. In one obvious sense, none of us gro..."

I understand your comment. This chapter compelled me to re-visit Emerson's essay on self-reliance. I believe that his idea was more than "grow all our own food" or living on one's own ( as his friend Thoreau).

Early on in his essay he remarks, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." In other words, he proposed that self-reliance was to listen to one's inner voice, one's intuition. It is more metaphysical than metabolism.


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