[Humanist] 27.478 James on the scope of humanistic learning?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Oct 29 07:18:10 CET 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 478.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:50:15 -0400
        From: Wendell Piez <wapiez at wendellpiez.com>
        Subject: Scope of humanistic learning

Dear Willard and HUMANIST:

In a piece I recently read on line, the redoubtable Mortimer Adler is
quoted thus:

“At the beginning of the century William James anticipated Ortega’s
insight. He pointed out that any subject can be seen in a humanistic
light by being approached historically or philosophically.”

In the original, this appears in a footnote without a citation to James.

I am wondering whether readers might be able to help me find a single
reference for this or something like it. Having looked up and down my
anthology of James, I can say this idea seems to appear everywhere as
much as anywhere (even while "humanism" in his work mainly refers to a
particular school of philosophy contemporary with him, i.e. ca. 1900).
But I also suppose that James was not the first to make the
distinction between holistic "humanistic" knowledge -- which can be
knowledge of anything -- versus knowledge that is merely useful.


Wendell Piez | http://www.wendellpiez.com
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