Author: Robert W. Shahan
What have Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Sanders Pierce, William James, John Dewey, Josiah Royce, George Santayana and Willard Van Orman Quine contributed to American philosophy? Edwards is without rival as the greatest philosopher/theologian of colonial America. Before Emerson, no other thinker remotely approaches Edwards in intellectual endowment, range of interests, or depth and subtlety of treatment of a variety of philosophical topics. Emerson and Thoreau together represent the high point of American transcendentalism. Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey--the Big Three of American pragmatism--form a constellation of philosophers whose like has been seen neither before nor since their time. The brilliant, irascible Peirce may well be the greatest philosopher America has produced. Philosophical idealism reached its American zenith in Josiah Royce, a thinker whose vast erudition and formidable intelligence breathed new life into a point of view widely thought to be moribund. George Ssantayana is, with Emerson, the poet of American philosophy. Quine is one of America’s most distinguished living philosophers and very proudly the most influential.