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The Metaphysical Club

Nonfiction: History
Unabridged Publication date: 12/09/2019

The Metaphysical Club

A Story of Ideas in America

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Digital Download ISBN:9781684577217


Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History, The Metaphysical Club is a riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.

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Product Description

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea—an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.

Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent—like knives and forks and microchips—to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals—that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely dependent—like germs—on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea depends not on its immutability but on its adaptability. The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America.

Author Bio

Louis Menand is a professor of English at Harvard University and the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History. A longtime staff writer for the New Yorker, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.