IsWas William James the Philosopher right about, Tragedy?
- j153eLv 712 months agoFavorite Answer
Imho, William James understood tragedy as accepted or recognized conflict or disharmony. If one tends to posit that other people's conflicts or tragedies are not one's own, James in his "The Sentiment of Rationality" labels that "subjectivism," rather the opposite of Unamuno's "A Tragic Sense of Life," wherein Unamuno has the post-Nietzschean "hollow men" orr "men with hollow chests" of T. S. Eliot and C. S. Lewis: a belief in God without love of God. This is a general meme of the Kierkegaard-Nietzsche-James et al. fin de siecle mise-en-scene. James, the pragmatist, judges ideas by their real-world consequences, and posits that "absolute morality" when in tragic conflict with the world does not sacrifice its ideals. This is shown in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's and Edith Stein's heart-felt resistance to National Socialism; of such, James would likely say that the circumstances were indeed tragic conflict for the likes of Bonhoeffer and Stein, but these people were right in their relation to circumstances as reflectors of ideas. Counterfactually, the anti-Semites in the Third Reich could be viewed as perceiving the real world consequences of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and such, and steadfast in their absolute moral values to oppose the "vermin," rather than to take the subjectivist "business as usual" view, which latter was termed "rootless cosmopolitanism" in the Soviet Union: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rootless_cosmopolita...
James' "absolute morality"-"subjectivism" stance re "tragic" vs "whatever" is not particularly resolved in his lectures on the Varieties of Religious Experience [i.e., varieties of "absolute morality"].
Imho, a "B+" for William James' "rightness" on tragedy.
p.s. James' discussion in Ch. 26 of "Principles of Psychology" is more physiological, as far as will and simplification of consciousness relate to absolute moral standards/relativism. His lectures on varieties of religious experience and his "The Sentiment of Rationality" are more germane to his views on "tragedy."
- Anonymous12 months ago
James' discussion of moral tragedy is found in Chapter 26 of his book ''The Principles of Psychology,'' I suggest that you ask in the psychology forum instead.