Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 17. Philosophical Professors

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XVII. Later Philosophy

§ 17. Philosophical Professors

At Harvard Francis Bowen continued for many years to oppose dialectic Hegelianism as well as the “mind philosophy” of the British empiricists; but his assistant and successor, the gentle and classical minded G. H. Palmer, turned in the main to the Hegelian idealism introduced at Harvard in 1869 by C. C. Everett. At Princeton James McCosh, the leader of the Scottish school, poured forth an interminable list of books defending common-sense realism and attacking without excessive refinements all its opponents, including the Hegelians with their “thinking in trinities.” But most of his attention had to be devoted to rendering the new evolutionary philosophy harmless to the cause of orthodoxy. His successor, Ormond, so expanded the realism of his master with Berkeleian and Kantian elements as to make it lose its historic identity. A similar development took place at Yale. Noah Porter had studied in Germany under Trendelenburg, and his great textbook on The Human Mind (1868) showed a painstaking, if not a penetrating, knowledge of Herbart, Lotze, and Wundt as well as of the British empiricists. But he remained substantially an adherent of a Scottish intuitive philosophy. Like McCosh, but with greater urbanity, he directed his energy mainly against popular agnosticism and materialism. His pupil and successor, George Trumbull Ladd, while professing to be electic and independent, follows in the main the method of Lotze, and in the end bases his spiritualistic metaphysics on epistemology quite in the Kantian fashion. A leader in the introduction of modern physiologic psychology into this country, Ladd stands for a philosophy that criticizes the procedures and fundamental ideas of the special sciences. But his primary interest in philosophy is to make better Christian citizens. His idealism is a branch of modern Christian apologetics, justifying the ways of God and defending the church and the established moral and social order.

Its most distinguished and also its most influential leader the idealistic school found in Josiah Royce at Harvard. To understand his development, however, we must first take some note of Charles S. Peirce.