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Pragmatism with PurposeSelected Writings$
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Peter Hare, Joseph Palencik, Douglas Anderson, and Steven A. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264322

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.001.0001

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Deep Conceptual Play in William James

Deep Conceptual Play in William James

(p.227) Sixteen Deep Conceptual Play in William James
Pragmatism with Purpose

Peter Hare

Fordham University Press

This chapter explores an activity that fascinated William James—the so-called “deep conceptual play.” In cognitive linguistics there is what George Lakoff and Mark Johnson term “conceptual metaphors,” and in brain science there is the striking finding that most of our thinking is unconscious. James is one of the philosophers strongly interested in poetry and literature in general. This chapter begins by considering the cultural matrix in which James and Charles Sanders Peirce developed their ideas in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s. It then comments on the interaction between the philosopher Paul Weiss and the poet Wallace Stevens and uses the Stevens–Weiss correspondence to develop “deep conceptual play.” It proposes a rethinking of philosophy as a way of structuring our experiences through the concepts we use and argues that this motivation is at the heart of James's philosophy.

Keywords:   deep conceptual play, William James, conceptual metaphors, poetry, literature, Charles Sanders Peirce, Paul Weiss, Wallace Stevens, philosophy, concepts

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