The Pragmatic Method [Personal Copy of William James’s Wife, Alice Howe Gibbens] [Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Vol. I, No. 25: December 8, 1904]
N.P. The Science Press, 1904. Reprint. Octavo. Wrappers. 15 pp. Light toning to wrapper edges, although leaves remain bright; wrappers beginning to separate from staples at bottom spine; minor marginalia to final page; faint creasing across middle. Rare offprint of James’s classic essay bearing the front wrapper instruction: “Please return to Mrs. W. James / 95 Irving St. / Cambridge.” A wonderful association copy of this uncommon work. Very good. Item #108
Bright reprint of William James’s (1842–1910) influential essay “The Pragmatic Method,” personally owned by his wife, Alice Howe Gibbens James (1849–1922). William James was a leading American philosopher, psychologist, and historian who, with Charles Sanders Peirce, is credited with founding the philosophical school of Pragmatism. James became a pioneer of modern psychology with the publication of his book The Principles of Psychology (1890), and he made important contributions to the fields of philosophy and social thought with works like Essays in Radical Empiricism (published posthumously in 1912) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902). The birth of Pragmatism as a philosophical movement occurred in the late nineteenth century under the guiding thought of James, Peirce, and the other members of The Metaphysical Club—a conservational philosophical club that included, among others, James, Peirce, John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Chauncey Wright. The “pragmatic method,” James would maintain, is “a method for settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise might be interminable.” William James was born into the gifted, but often eccentric, James family and had four siblings, including the celebrated author Henry James (1843–1916). William became engaged to Alice Howe Gibbens on May 10, 1878 and they were married in July. The James’s would have five children together and, as wonderfully documented in Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbs, by Susan E. Gunter (2009), Alice James was a cohesive force within the brilliant, industrious, and high-climbing dynastic family. In 1889 the family built their celebrated home at 95 Irving Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts near Harvard University (where James taught), and he would live there with his family until his death in 1910. The house remains a Cambridge historic landmark today and is architecturally significant as a work of Boston architect William Ralph Emerson, himself a cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson. This rare offprint of James’s influential article was personally owned by his Alice James who added the front wrapper instruction: “Please return to Mrs. W. James / 95 Irving St. / Cambridge.” A remarkable and well-preserved association copy that once resided at the James’s famous homestead.