The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

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By Frank (The United States) · ★★★★★ · July 28, 2010

Although this is a supposed quadruplicate biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior, Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, it’s really an unparalleled intellectual history of America from the Civil War up through the turn of the century. Thankfully it doesn’t try to be a comprehensive in... ...more
By Colin (The United States) · ★★★★★ · May 14, 2008
Shit this is great. Wonderful history of American pragmatist thought, starting with its roots in post-Civil War America and ending with John Dewey trying to figure out how to deal with World War 1 and the build to World War 2. Pop scholarship, too, so it was a good introduction to the ideas as a... ...more
By Tbfrank (The United States) · ★★★★★ · July 06, 2008
I found this book to be a fascinating and enlightening study of how certain ideas came to be prevalent in American society. The author examines the lives of four individuals whose ideas represent many of the underlying tenets of American thought: Oliver Wendall Holmes, William James, Charles S. P... ...more
By Paul (The United States) · ★★★★★ · May 07, 2013
This is probably the last book I bought at the now defunct Cornerstone Books in Salem, MA and that probably means nothing to you if you're just here trying to determine whether or not to read this one. Stick with me. I'm getting there. I bought it just before the birth of my daughter and began re... ...more
By Clif (Evanston, IL) · ★★★★★ · October 30, 2011
Modernity. I've heard it mentioned so many times but have never paused to think of what it means. In this book, Louis Menard gives a simple definition. Modernity is the break from the cyclical world where one generation succeeded another by taking on the same tasks, to one where each generation i... ...more
By Jimmy (Chichester, NH) · ★★★★★ · September 15, 2013
The title of this book is misleading. There's really not a lot about the actual Metaphysical Club. Records were not kept of their meetings. The subtitle was better: A Story of Ideas in America. But I would add "at the Turn of the Twentieth Century." It was an absolutely terrific read for those of... ...more
By Betty (Macau, 01, Macao) · ★★★★★ · February 19, 2014
Part history and part philosophy. This book is an eloquent biography of American intellectuals from 19th century. Boiled down, it's about Pragmatism.

Louis Menand demonstrates effectively how the foundation of modern American society ideas and principles took root through the semi-biographies of... ...more
By Douglas (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · January 20, 2011
Personally, I have a hard time getting excited about John Dewey. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr is more compelling, and the first section of Menand’s book - dealing with Holmes’s experience of the Civil War - was thrilling and powerfully reflective. It’s the figures of William James and Charles Pierce,... ...more
By Andrew (Bangkok, Thailand) · March 05, 2012
I have a habit of using philosophy books as self-help. And when I discovered the pragmatists, it was such a breath of fresh air... all of the sudden, so many variations on my general malaise became irrelevant. William James and Richard Rorty seemed to point the way to some plane of thought that w... ...more
By Bruce (Brooklyn, NY) · ★★★★☆ · March 02, 2015
Considering how riveted I was with this account of the rise of pragmatism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I feel very uncomfortable giving only four stars. It's a great read, incredibly informative, and creates numerous tributaries of interest drawing one to read and study more a... ...more