• Tibor Solymosi


The classical pragmatists were the first philosophers to actively engage the modern science of the brain. Peirce was »perhaps the first experimental psychologist in America« (Schulkin 2015, 18–19). James not only studied with German physiologists but was to become the author of the majestic Principles of Psychology. »Dewey knew personally several prominent leaders of the so-called American School of neurology«, writes Thomas C. Dalton, »that included the psychiatrist Adolf Meyer, naturalists and neurologists C.L. Herrick and his brother C.J. Herrick. [...] Dewey dedicated his brief years at Chicago to absorbing and synthesizing available knowledge about the nervous system and attempting to put this knowledge to work in a Laboratory School he headed« (2002, 11). Dewey was engaged throughout his long career with thermodynamics and the brain, criticizing the reflex arc concept of stimulus-response endorsed by philosophers from at least Descartes to James, and relating advances in inquiry to social and child development as well as to ethics. Dewey’s criticism of the reflex arc concept paved the way for our contemporary understanding of the central nervous system as an integrative circuit, not a network of stimulus-response mechanisms (s. Kap. 28). The early pragmatists were not only engaged in the empirical study of neurons but also invested in the significance of the growing knowledge of brains and nervous systems for larger philosophical questions. These questions run the gamut in philosophy, from the relationship between the mind and the brain to the nature of ethics and morality.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tibor Solymosi
    • 1
  1. 1.ErieUSA

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