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James and Dewey on Belief and Experience

Pragmatists analyze science, religion, art and epistemology

Donald Capps and John Capps's James and Dewey on Belief and Experience juxtaposes the key writings of two philosophical superstars. As fathers of Pragmatism, America's unique contribution to world philosophy, their work has been enormously influential, and remains essential to any understanding of American intellectual history.

In these essays, you'll find William James deeply embroiled in debates between religion and science. Combining philosophical charity with logical clarity, he defended the validity of religious experience against crass forms of scientism. Dewey identified the myriad ways in which supernatural concerns distract religious adherents from pressing social concerns, and sought to reconcile the tensions inherent in science's dual embrace of common sense and the aesthetic.

James and Dewey on Belief and Experience is divided into two sections: the former showcases James, the latter is devoted to Dewey. Two transitional passages in which each reflects on the work of the other bridge these two main segments. Together, the sections offer a unique perspective on the philosophers' complex relationship of influence and interdependence. An editors' introduction provides biographical information about both men, an overview of their respective philosophical orientations, a discussion of the editorial process, and a brief commentary on each of the selections.

Comparing what these foremost pragmatists wrote on both themes illumines their common convictions regarding the nature of philosophical inquiry and simultaneously reveals what made each a distinctive thinker.


"The selections work together both within and across their respective domains, and a well-written and organized introduction effectively guides readers through the essays. This is a fine collection from conception to articulation."--Larry Hickman, Director of the Center for Dewey Studies and professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University

"This anthology of James and Dewey writings on belief and experience sheds valuable light on pragmatist conceptions of science, religion and art, as well as the relationship between the thought of James and Dewey. The editors' introduction lucidly explains the personal and professional contexts of two remarkable American philosophers."--Todd Lekan, professor of religion and philosophy, Muskingum College


John Capps is an assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology. Donald Capps is William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of several books including Men, Religion and Melancholia: James, Otto, Jung and Erikson.

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