William James and “the total nature of reality”

Upon reading some background material on the debate about “the two cultures” that arose between C. P. Snow and F. R. Leavis, I happened upon this gem from William James. It’s been uploaded to The Appendix of Mis/Understanding.

Of all insufficient authorities as to the total nature of reality, give me the “scientists,” from Münsterberg up, or down. Their interests are most incomplete and their professional conceit and bigotry immense. I know no narrower sect or club, in spite of their excellent authority in the lines of fact they have explored, and their splendid achievement there. Their only authority at large is for method and the pragmatic method completes and enlarges them there. – The Letters of William James, 9 April 1907 (p. 270)

At least two essays on the importance of the debate about Snow’s Two Cultures are in the works.

Categories: Current Reading

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