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William James: Writings 1902-1910: The Varieties of Religious Experience/Pragmatism/A Pluralistic Universe/The Meaning of Truth/Some (Library of America) [Tapa dura]

William James

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Amazon.com: 4.6 de un máximo de 5 estrellas  14 opiniones
52 de 52 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas William James in the Library of America 4 de enero de 2007
Por Robin Friedman - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
The great philosopher and psychologist William James (1842 -- 1910) is best-known as the founder, with C.S. Peirce and John Dewey, of the distinctively American philosophy of pragmatism. James is that indeed, but he is much more as well. This volume of the Library of America series consists of five books and nineteen essays by James written between 1902 and 1910. (A separate Library of America volume includes James's earlier writing, including "Psychology, A Briefer Course" and the essay "The Will to Believe".) The volume will give the reader a feeling for the breadth of James's philosophical, scientific, and religious concerns. The volume is edited by Professor Bruce Kuklick of the University of Pennsylvania who has written extensively about James and about the history of American philosophy. In this volume, Kuklick provides an unusually thorough chronology of James's life to accompany James's texts.

For those readers with no prior familiarity with James, I suggest beginning with a brief essay "Answers to a Questionniare" (p. 1183) that James wrote in response to questions from a colleague at Harvard about the role of religion in life. In his answers, James briefly summarizes his theism and his conviction of the value of religious experience. He writes that "Religion means primarily a universe of spiritual relations surrounding the earthly practical ones, not merely relations of 'value,' but agencies and their activities". James says that his belief in immortality had increased over the years as he is "just getting fit to live." As to the authority of the Bible, James states that it is not his authority in religious matters. Rather, he describes it is "so human a book that I don't see how belief in its divine authorship can survive the reading of it."

This short questionnaire response provides a wedge into the over 1300 pages of text in this volume. James was trained as a physician and a scientist and was greatly impatient with what he viewed as philosophical abstractions. Yet religious concerns were at the heart of his thinking. James undertook the traditional philosophic attempt to reconcile the teachings of science with those of religion. His famous teaching of pragmatism was, as he stated in the first chapter of his book "Pragmatism" designed to to so. Other philosophical positions that James developed, including radical empiricism, pluralism, and meliorism were designed to honor the importance of human feeling and effort and to emphasize the large role of the spiritual in human life.

James long had the ambition of writing a systematic exposition of his philosophy in a book, but he never did so. (His final book, "Some Problems of Philosophy", published after his death was an attempt to do so, but it was left incomplete and sketchy. It is included in this volume). Thus, with the exception of "Some Problems" the books included in this collection are series of lectures that James delivered over the course of the years. They are beautifully written and aimed for the most part at an audience of nonspecialists. But, on the whole, the books consist more of suggestions and of paths for exploration than of detailed philosophical argumentation. Reading the books in this volume will show the reader how James's thought changed and developed over the years.

The first book in the volume, "The Varieties of Religious Experience" consists of the Gifford Lectures James delivered in Scotland at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The "Varieties" is still my favorite James book, with its unique combination of psychology and philosophy, as James attempt to explain the value of the religious life by describing the forms it takes in the lives of individuals from many times and places.

Probably the most famous single work of American philosophy was James's "Pragmatism" which again consists of a series of lectures delivered in New York City and Boston. In this book, James made high claims for the importance of philosophy and developed pragmatism as a method and as a philosophical theory of truth. In a subsequent book called "The Meaning of Truth", James gathered together thirteen of his essays, in addition to a Preface and two new essays, to try to explain in greater detail his theory of pragmatism and to answer objections to it. The "Meaning of Truth" is James's most difficult and technically dense book.

In his final book of lectures, "A Pluralistic Universe" James's thought turned in new and more speculative directions. The book continues James's longstanding attack on the absolute idealism, derived from Hegel, which was still preeminent in his day. James develops a philosophy he calls radical empiricism derived in part from the French philosopher Henri Bergson and in part from the German thinker Gustav Fechner. The book places limitations of the value of conceptual, scientific thinking looking instead to the stream of experience and the flow of human consciousness. In this book, James engages in speculative philosophy, adopts a form of idealism almost in spite of himself, and goes far beyond the pragmatism of "Pragmatism" and "A Theory of Truth". This book is James's fullest statement of his thought, and it does not always get the study it deserves.

As I mentioned, James left his final book, "Some Problems of Philosophy" incomplete, but what we have of it is a valuable complement to "A Pluralistic Universe." The essays in this volume cover a variety of topics, philosophical, psychological and otherwise, and, with the brief response to a questionnaire I mentioned at the outset of this review, provide a good approach to the longer works. I tend to like the more popularly-oriented of the essays, especially the great essay James wrote on "The Moral Equivalent of War." Again, this is an essay that newcomers to James need to read. The essay on "The True Harvard" has moving things to say about the intellectual life, and the "Address at the Centenary of Ralph Waldo Emerson" is a fitting tribute to its subject.

There is much to think and reflect about in this compilation of William James's later writings. His philosophy still has much to teach.

Robin Friedman
54 de 60 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas What American philosophy and psychology could have been 8 de abril de 2000
Por R. Wallace - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
Marvelous book. James is a clear -- and humorous -- writer. He clearly saw that psychology and philosophy are not completely separate disciplines, as they are so often considered today. Psychology unfortunately in many ways was sidetracked by Freud. And philosophy got bushwhacked by the unintelligible babblings of existentialists like Sartre. James was a wide-ranging writer -- not only did he take psychology and philosophy seriously, but also religion, including mysticism -- hence the title _The Varities of Religious Experience._ James was no ivory-tower egghead: he even tried mescaline once (although he admits he barfed it up). This collection contains his amazing essay, "Does Consciousness Exist?" in which he argues that the subject/object dichotomy that appears to be so obvious cannot be true. In fact, he was able to convince Bertrand Russell of the his truth of his position -- an astonishing feat indeed. If you want to see what _could_ have been, James is one of the places to start.
14 de 14 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas The cash value of the American mind 16 de noviembre de 2005
Por Shalom Freedman - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
There is more than one William James. James is philosopher, psychologist, and researcher in religious experience. In this volume are collected a number of his greatest works, including the incomparable 'Varieties of Religious Experience'. In this work James' own particular mental crisis is included, as is his development of the concept of 'twice- born'of that kind of human being who having gone through the dark night of the soul, emerges to see the world with a depth of understanding those 'once born' cannot know.

This volume also contains James summary statement of , what is often claimed to be, the only original philosophy invented in America, 'Pragmatism'. Along with C.S. Pierce and their pupil John Dewey , James is the great founding figure of ' pragmatism' of bringing a theory of truth before the world which stresses the consequences of the statement, the ' cash value' of the idea.

I myself prefer the depth of experiences offered in 'The Variety of Religious Experience' to the rather plain fare given in the purely philosophical writings.

But James is a great American classic, a 'must read' for those who would truly know the American mind and experience.
8 de 8 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Philosophy of/in common sense 13 de agosto de 2003
Por D. Lane - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
I loved this book. It's a bit of a long haul to read though as it encompasses I suppose many books in one volume. The author in my opinion writes very well, it might take a bit of getting used to but believe me it's well worth the perseverence! The information he provides seems to be concentrated in each sentence, so if you're in for a casual read with a thought here and there on whats being presented you're gonna struggle to get the full worth of this book. Having said that, understanding comes in levels and I think to deepen your realisation of some of the ideas presented here a scan re-read could be in order! Just a brief word about style and approach. Like I have said in the title, common sense seems to shine through on a lot of the ideas here, with James seemingly steering us home taking us away from our wayward thoughts and bringing us to that place where he appears to be totally grounded. Definitely some different and refreshing approaches though, with thoughts of "yeah, that's quite good, I might have come to that conclusion had I really thought about it" coming when you read some of the passages. But I suppose his real strength, is his ability to penetrate into the heart of issues and expose the core of the matter at hand, and divulge points using the succinctness of logic. As much as he asks of himself he will ask of others, I refer of course to his critics. Some of the passages look at those who oppose his ideas, and where his strict governance of himself is telling in the text, he exposes the lack of veracity and looseness in his opponents words.
Overall then, a great book, with some great ideas giving direction and purpose to those willing to invest in thought and definitely (due to the length!) in time!
15 de 18 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Remember: This book is volume 2 of a 2 volume set 27 de febrero de 2006
Por Bill Abendroth - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato:Tapa dura
The previous "reviewer" who criticized this book for failing to include The Will to Believe; Psychology, Briefer Course; and the essay on radical empiricism does have a point: those writings are important to understanding Mr. James's philosophy. However, what "A Reader" failed to discover in A Reader's exhasutive researches is that Library of America has issued a COMPANION volume to this work, entitled in a burst of literary inspiration William James--Writings 1878-1899: Psychology, Briefer Course / The Will to Believe / Talks to Teachers and Students / Essays.

Because the works that A Reader sorely misses were written PRIOR to 1902, one might expect they would appear in an earlier volume, maybe even one subtitled Writings 1878 to 1899. I point this out for information purposes only.

If you have any interest in William James (and you should), then buy both of these volumes. The LOA editions are not only authoritative, but also have excellent, tight bindings and wonderful paper--not to mention priced to sell.

Forget any other edition--If you want a book to read, enjoy, and re-read without breaking the bank or worrying about broken bindings or loose pages, then buy both of these books.

And look at what else is offered by the good people of Library of America.
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