The Promise and Limits of William James’s Pragmatism

William James (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the many surprises upon re-reading William James’s late lectures, collected under the title Pragmatism: a New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, was his sympathetic citation, at the beginning of Lecture One, of G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics. It is hard to imagine two more uncongenial minds than Chesterton, the diehard Thomist, and James, the lapsed liberal Protestant, and it is hard to think of…