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Whatever features an object may have, it has these properties because the object resists.

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Resistance itself is the exertion of God's power, and it can be seen in Newton's laws of motion , where an object is "unwilling" to change its current state of motion; an object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion. Though Edwards reformed Puritan theology using Enlightenment ideas from natural philosophy, and Locke, Newton, and Berkeley, he remained a Calvinist and hard determinist.

Jonathan Edwards also rejected the freedom of the will , saying that "we can do as we please, but we cannot please as we please. While the 17th- and early 18th-century American philosophical tradition was decidedly marked by religious themes and the Reformation reason of Ramus, the 18th century saw more reliance on science and the new learning of the Age of Enlightenment , along with an idealist belief in the perfectibility of human beings through teaching ethics and moral philosophy , laissez-faire economics , and a new focus on political matters.

Samuel Johnson has been called "The Founder of American Philosophy" [14] and the "first important philosopher in colonial America and author of the first philosophy textbook published there". Johnson was a proponent of the view that "the essence of true religion is morality ", and believed that "the problem of denominationalism " [17] could be solved by teaching a non-denominational common moral philosophy acceptable to all religions.

So he crafted one. Johnson's moral philosophy was influenced by Descartes and Locke, but more directly by William Wollaston 's Religion of Nature Delineated and the idealist philosopher of George Berkeley, with whom Johnson studied while Berkley was in Rhode Island between and Johnson strongly rejected Calvin's doctrine of Predestination and believed that people were autonomous moral agents endowed with freewill and Lockean natural rights.

His fusion philosophy of Natural Religion and Idealism, which has been called "American Practical Idealism", [18] was developed as a series of college textbooks in seven editions between and These works, and his dialogue Raphael, or The Genius of the English America, written at the time of the Stamp Act crisis , go beyond his Wollaston and Berkeley influences; [19] Raphael includes sections on economics , psychology , the teaching of children, and political philosophy.

His moral philosophy is defined in his college textbook Elementa Philosophica as "the Art of pursuing our highest Happiness by the practice of virtue". It was influential in its day: it has been estimated that about half of American college students between and , [21] and over half of the men who contributed to the Declaration of Independence or debated it [22] were connected to Johnson's American Practical Idealism moral philosophy. Three members of the Committee of Five who edited the Declaration of Independence were closely connected to Johnson: his educational partner, promoter, friend, and publisher Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania , his King's College student Robert R.

Constitution: edits to a draft version [23] are in his hand in the Library of Congress. About the time of the Stamp Act , interest rose in civil and political philosophy. In continuing with the chief concerns of the Puritans in the 17th century, the Founding Fathers debated the interrelationship between God, the state, and the individual. Resulting from this were the United States Declaration of Independence , passed in , and the United States Constitution , ratified in The Constitution sets forth a federated republican form of government that is marked by a balance of powers accompanied by a checks and balances system between the three branches of government: a judicial branch , an executive branch led by the President , and a legislative branch composed of a bicameral legislature where the House of Representatives is the lower house and the Senate is the upper house.

Even Franklin professed the need for a "public religion" [27] and would attend various churches from time to time. Jefferson was vestryman at the evangelical Calvinistical Reformed Church of Charlottesville, Virginia , a church he himself founded and named in , [28] suggesting that at this time of life he was rather strongly affiliated with a denomination and that the influence of Whitefield and Edwards reached even into Virginia.

But the founders who studied or embraced Johnson, Franklin, and Smith's non-denominational moral philosophy were at least influenced by the deistic tendencies of Wollaston's Natural Religion, as evidenced by "the Laws of Nature, and Nature's God" and "the pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration. He was a Presbyterian minister and a delegate who joined the Continental Congress just days before the Declaration was debated. His moral philosophy was based on the work of the Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson , who also influenced John Adams. Ronald Hamowy published a critique of Garry Wills's Inventing America , [38] concluding that "the moment [Wills's] statements are subjected to scrutiny, they appear a mass of confusions, uneducated guesses, and blatant errors of fact.

Thomas Paine , the English intellectual , pamphleteer , and revolutionary who wrote Common Sense and Rights of Man was an influential promoter of Enlightenment political ideas in America, though he was not a philosopher. Common Sense , which has been described as "the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era", [44] provides justification for the American revolution and independence from the British Crown. Though popular in , historian Pauline Maier cautions that, "Paine's influence was more modest than he claimed and than his more enthusiastic admirers assume.

Charles Sanders Peirce

In summary, "in the middle eighteenth century," it was "the collegians who studied" the ideas of the new learning and moral philosophy taught in the Colonial colleges who "created new documents of American nationhood. The 19th century saw the rise of Romanticism in America. The American incarnation of Romanticism was transcendentalism and it stands as a major American innovation. The 19th century also saw the rise of the school of pragmatism, along with a smaller, Hegelian philosophical movement led by George Holmes Howison that was focused in St.

Louis , though the influence of American pragmatism far outstripped that of the small Hegelian movement. Other reactions to materialism included the " Objective idealism " of Josiah Royce , and the " Personalism ," sometimes called "Boston personalism," of Borden Parker Bowne. Transcendentalism in the United States was marked by an emphasis on subjective experience, and can be viewed as a reaction against modernism and intellectualism in general and the mechanistic, reductionistic worldview in particular.

Transcendentalism is marked by the holistic belief in an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical, and this perfect state can only be attained by one's own intuition and personal reflection, as opposed to either industrial progress and scientific advancement or the principles and prescriptions of traditional, organized religion. The transcendentalist writers all desired a deep return to nature , and believed that real, true knowledge is intuitive and personal and arises out of personal immersion and reflection in nature, as opposed to scientific knowledge that is the result of empirical sense experience.

Things such as scientific tools, political institutions, and the conventional rules of morality as dictated by traditional religion need to be transcended. This is found in Henry David Thoreau 's Walden; or, Life in the Woods where transcendence is achieved through immersion in nature and the distancing of oneself from society. The release of Charles Darwin 's evolutionary theory in his publication of On the Origin of Species had a strong impact on American philosophy. John Fiske and Chauncey Wright both wrote about and argued for the re-conceiving of philosophy through an evolutionary lens.

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  • They both wanted to understand morality and the mind in Darwinian terms, setting a precedent for evolutionary psychology and evolutionary ethics. Darwin's biological theory was also integrated into the social and political philosophies of English thinker Herbert Spencer and American philosopher William Graham Sumner.

    Herbert Spencer, who coined the oft-misattributed term " survival of the fittest ," believed that societies were in a struggle for survival, and that groups within society are where they are because of some level of fitness.

    The Meaning of Knowledge: Crash Course Philosophy #7

    This struggle is beneficial to human kind, as in the long run the weak will be weeded out and only the strong will survive. This position is often referred to as Social Darwinism , though it is distinct from the eugenics movements with which social darwinism is often associated. The laissez-faire beliefs of Sumner and Spencer do not advocate coercive breeding to achieve a planned outcome.

    Sumner, much influenced by Spencer, believed along with the industrialist Andrew Carnegie that the social implication of the fact of the struggle for survival is that laissez-faire capitalism is the natural political-economic system and is the one that will lead to the greatest amount of well-being. William Sumner, in addition to his advocacy of free markets, also espoused anti-imperialism having been credited with coining the term " ethnocentrism " , and advocated for the gold standard.

    Perhaps the most influential school of thought that is uniquely American is pragmatism. Pragmatism begins with the idea that belief is that upon which one is willing to act. It holds that a proposition's meaning is the consequent form of conduct or practice that would be implied by accepting the proposition as true. Polymath , logician , mathematician , philosopher, and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce — coined the term "pragmatism" in the s. In "The Fixation of Belief" Peirce argues for the superiority of the scientific method in settling belief on theoretical questions. In "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" Peirce argued for pragmatism as summed up in that which he later called the pragmatic maxim : "Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have.

    Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object". Peirce emphasized that a conception is general, such that its meaning is not a set of actual, definite effects themselves. Instead the conception of an object is equated to a conception of that object's effects to a general extent of their conceivable implications for informed practice. Those conceivable practical implications are the conception's meaning. The maxim is intended to help fruitfully clarify confusions caused, for example, by distinctions that make formal but not practical differences.

    Traditionally one analyzes an idea into parts his example: a definition of truth as a sign's correspondence to its object. To that needful but confined step, the maxim adds a further and practice-oriented step his example: a definition of truth as sufficient investigation's destined end. It is the heart of his pragmatism as a method of experimentational mental reflection [53] arriving at conceptions in terms of conceivable confirmatory and disconfirmatory circumstances—a method hospitable to the formation of explanatory hypotheses, and conducive to the use and improvement of verification.

    Monism and Meliorism

    Peirce's philosophy includes a pervasive three-category system , both fallibilism and anti-skeptical belief that truth is discoverable and immutable, logic as formal semiotic including semiotic elements and classes of signs , modes of inference , and methods of inquiry along with pragmatism and critical common-sensism , Scholastic realism , theism , objective idealism , and belief in the reality of continuity of space, time, and law, and in the reality of absolute chance , mechanical necessity, and creative love as principles operative in the cosmos and as modes of its evolution.

    William James — was "an original thinker in and between the disciplines of physiology, psychology and philosophy. James, along with Peirce, [56] saw pragmatism as embodying familiar attitudes elaborated into a radical new philosophical method of clarifying ideas and thereby resolving dilemmas.

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    He then went on to characterize pragmatism as promoting not only a method of clarifying ideas but also as endorsing a particular theory of truth. Peirce rejected this latter move by James, preferring to describe the pragmatic maxim only as a maxim of logic and pragmatism as a methodological stance, explicitly denying that it was a substantive doctrine or theory about anything, truth or otherwise. James is also known for his radical empiricism which holds that relations between objects are as real as the objects themselves.

    James was also a pluralist in that he believed that there may actually be multiple correct accounts of truth.

    He rejected the correspondence theory of truth and instead held that truth involves a belief, facts about the world, other background beliefs, and future consequences of those beliefs. Later in his life James would also come to adopt neutral monism , the view that the ultimate reality is of one kind, and is neither mental nor physical.

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    John Dewey — , while still engaging in the lofty academic philosophical work of James and Peirce before him, also wrote extensively on political and social matters, and his presence in the public sphere was much greater than his pragmatist predecessors. In addition to being one of the founding members of pragmatism, John Dewey was one of the founders of functional psychology and was a leading figure of the progressive movement in U.

    Dewey argued against the individualism of classical liberalism, asserting that social institutions are not "means for obtaining something for individuals.