"The Moral Earth, Too, Is Round": James and Nietzsche on the Aim of Philosophy

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William James and Friedrich Nietzsche share a dubious distinction: they both (in)famously explain philosophers’ views by means of their temperaments and associated needs and preferences. James’s division of philosophers into “tough-minded” empiricists and “tender-minded” rationalists in the first lecture of Pragmatism is one of the most widely remembered passages. James, like Nietzsche, emphasizes the unavoidable influence of human interests in all our thinking: “Human motives sharpen all our questions, human satisfactions lurk in all our answers, all our formulas have a human twist”. James frames a similar ethical-epistemic ideal – the capacity to perceive others’ values from their perspective – in “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings” (1899), though he emphasizes the difficulty and rarity of achieving it. Philosophers have an exceptionally strong sense of the way the world is or should be, which motivates them to articulate it in order to convince others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Jamesian Mind
EditorsSarin Marchetti
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429029639
ISBN (Print)9780367140007
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Philosophical Minds


  • William James
  • Nietzsche
  • History of Philosophy


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