William James's naturalistic account of concepts and his 'rejection of logic'

In Philosophy of Mind in the Nineteenth Century: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 5. New York: Routledge. pp. 133-146 (2018)
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Abstract
William James was one of the most controversial philosophers of the early part of the 20 century, and his apparent skepticism about logic and any robust conception of truth was often simply attributed to his endorsing mysticism and irrationality out of an overwhelming desire to make room for religion in his world-view. However, it will be argued here that James’s pessimism about logic and even truth (or at least ‘absolute’ truth), while most prominent in his later views, stem from the naturalistic conception of concepts developed much earlier in The Principles of Psychology (1890), and it is his commitment to naturalism about our conceptual powers, rather than to any sort of mysticism or irrationalism, that motivates his skepticism about the scope and power of logic, and ultimately about the objectivity of truth itself.
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Archival date: 2018-06-30
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