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Eidos in process: Darwin, Classical American philosophy and the possibility of belief
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The theory of evolution, as articulated by Charles Darwin, is one of the most successful paradigms at work within the natural sciences. The importance of this theory is not, however, restricted to the scientific realm alone. For philosophy, the most important ramification of scientific evolutionary theory is that the world is no longer best understood as being static - a position that has been held historically due to the influence of Plato and Aristotle - but is rather best understood as being changing and in process. The Classical American philosophers William James and John Dewey recognized the importance of Darwin's work for philosophy; therefore, their work is examined in an effort to achieve clarity regarding the interactions between evolutionary theory and philosophy. What is found is that for both James and Dewey, philosophy begins with 'radical empiricism', the uniqueness present in any individual's particular experiences. Further, the experiences had by an individual constitute what is real. A philosophy thus grounded finds the universe to be pluralistic, without recourse to a priori monisms or dualisms. What is seen, then, is that both James and Dewey agree with Darwin that the world is best understood as being in process in addition to more carefully delineating the philosophical ramifications of such a position. The final question that is to be asked is this: How is one to form warranted beliefs within such a pluralistic universe? On Dewey's account, beliefs may be formed through a process of inquiry modeled after scientific methods of inquiry. Nevertheless, we humans often find ourselves in situations which do not logically direct our choice of beliefs. James is used to assist in this dilemma, specifically his argument that this type of decision must be made according to the 'passional nature' of the individual. Ultimately, what will be shown is that warranted beliefs must be chosen according to how they impact the continued experiences of the individual. But here one must proceed with caution, for just as beliefs might open up beneficial possibilities that were not available before, they might also eradicate possibilities, restricting the individual's ability to live well.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 104-107).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Kyle, Kristy Nicole (2001). Eidos in process: Darwin, Classical American philosophy and the possibility of belief. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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