By M. Gail Hamner
Hamner seeks to find what makes pragmatism uniquely American. She argues that the inextricably American personality of pragmatism of such figures as C.S. Peirce and William James lies in its frequently understated confirmation of the United States as a uniquely non secular kingdom with a God-given project and populated by way of God-fearing citizens.
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Additional info for American pragmatism : a religious genealogy
Peirce categorizes him strictly as a physicist and physiologist, while James labels him a psychologist, even when the pragmatist culls quotations from the Handbuch der physiologischen Optik and Die Lehre von den Tonempﬁndungen als physiologisch Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, which are texts structurally oriented to the physiology of sensation. 9 Indeed, the ambiguous intellectual position of psychology underscores the importance of Helmholtz for my argument. Through the efforts of men like Helmholtz the discipline of psychology begins to separate from those of physiology HERMANN VON HELMHOLTZ 25 and philosophy.
Speciﬁcally, I have articulated Helmholtz's discussions of causality (one of a number of competing understandings of the concept) as part of my larger analysis of how continental concerns became repositioned on American soil. The scientiﬁc and technological developments of the twentieth century muted the voices of Helmholtz and Peirce, upstaging their contributions and commitments through the excitement and easy accessibility of Wundt and James. Their versions of pragmatism, however, mandate a theoretical thickness and moral consequence that offer an alternate vision of the meaning and interactions of self and nation.
The dual status implies that, unlike Kant, Helmholtz accepts the process of perception itself as a justiﬁable part of transcendental philosophy, in addition to its more obvious status as an empirical process. 43 Viewing perception as subjective, lawful, and physical, Helmholtz seeks to close the gap between the phenomenal and noumenal realms, though, like Kant, he never does fully heal the break. The semiotic character of physical sensations and the dual status of the law of 34 EVOLUTION OF GERMAN PSYCHOLOGY causality function in three speciﬁc ways for Helmholtz.