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In American Philosophy, John Kaag - a disillusioned philosopher at sea in his marriage and career - stumbles upon a treasure trove of rare books on an old estate in the hinterlands of New Hampshire that once belonged to the Harvard philosopher William Ernest Hocking. The library includes notes from Whitman, inscriptions from Frost, and first editions of Hobbes, Descartes, and Kant. As he begins to catalog and preserve these priceless books, Kaag rediscovers the very tenets of American philosophy - self-reliance, pragmatism, the transcendent - and sees them in a 21st-century context.
Hocking was one of the last true giants of American philosophy. After studying under Harvard's philosophical four - William James, George Santayana, Josiah Royce, and George Herbert Palmer - he held the most prestigious chair at the university for the first three decades of the 20th century. And when his teachers eventually died, he collected the great books from their libraries (filled with marginalia) and combined them with his own rare volumes at his family's estate. And there they remained for nearly 80 years, a time capsule of American thought.
Part intellectual history, part memoir, American Philosophy is an invigorating investigation of American pragmatism and the wisdom that underlies a meaningful life.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By August on 10-19-16
American Philosophy In Action
Would you listen to American Philosophy again? Why?
For sure. It's packed with great historical information and then put into in a present day narrative. In this case, it's the author's own life showing us why knowing American philosophy is applicable and necessary. Loved the info on the editions of the books as well.
A must for any book collector!
Have you listened to any of Josh Bloomberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
This is the first one I have heard. He does a great job.
If you could give American Philosophy a new subtitle, what would it be?
How to live an American life according to the pioneers who came before...
30 of 34 people found this review helpful