In an era when American higher education was dominated by theologians and idealists, Chauncey Wright (1830-75) pioneered the cause of natural evolution and scientific empiricism. C.S. Peirce admired Wright's sheer intellect as superior to his own and to that of William James. Charles Darwin respected a mind "so clear" that he asked him to develop a theory of the genesis of intelligence. Wright's response to this and other challenges solidifies his legacy as the first American philosopher of science. To understand the universe and our place in it, he argues, we must appeal not to theology of "cosmic" philosophy but to scientific laws of nature. Consciousness is not an occult power, but a tool organisms utilize for adaptability and survival. Philosophy is suited to the moral and aesthetic realm, where Wright anticipates pragmatism in holding that values develop in effective social practices. Regrettably, Wright's brilliance was not vested in his temperament, and his early death at age 45 leaves a scattering of suggestive essays but no developed system.
Still, his ideas have modern tone that establishes their relevance to later developments in evolutionary theory, pragmatism, and the philosophy of science. This three-volume collection gathers Wright's "Philosophical Discussions" and "Letters", each featuring a biographical sketch, with a third, reset volume of reviews and tributes, including contributions by John Fiske, C.S. Peirce, Joseph Blau and Gail Kennedy.
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(216mm x 138mm x 121mm)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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