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From the celebrated author of American Philosophy: A Love Story and Hiking with Nietzsche, a compelling introduction to the life-affirming philosophy of William James
In 1895, William James, the father of American philosophy, delivered a lecture entitled "Is Life Worth Living?" It was no theoretical question for James, who had contemplated suicide during an existential crisis as a young man a quarter century earlier. Indeed, as John Kaag writes, "James's entire philosophy, from beginning to end, was geared to save a life, his life"—and that's why it just might be able to save yours, too. Sick Souls, Healthy Minds is a compelling introduction to James's life and thought that shows why the founder of pragmatism and empirical psychology—and an inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymous—can still speak so directly and profoundly to anyone struggling to make a life worth living.
Kaag tells how James's experiences as one of what he called the "sick-souled," those who think that life might be meaningless, drove him to articulate an ideal of "healthy-mindedness"—an attitude toward life that is open, active, and hopeful, but also realistic about its risks. In fact, all of James's pragmatism, resting on the idea that truth should be judged by its practical consequences for our lives, is a response to, and possible antidote for, crises of meaning that threaten to undo many of us at one time or another. Along the way, Kaag also movingly describes how his own life has been endlessly enriched by James.
Eloquent, inspiring, and filled with insight, Sick Souls, Healthy Minds may be the smartest and most important self-help book you'll ever read.
"A stimulating book about combating despair and complacency with searching reflection." --Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
Named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR. One of Lit Hub's 15 Books You Should Read in September and one of Outside's Best Books of Fall
A revelatory Alpine journey in the spirit of the great Romantic thinker Friedrich Nietzsche
Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are is a tale of two philosophical journeys—one made by John Kaag as an introspective young man of nineteen, the other seventeen years later, in radically different circumstances: he is now a husband and father, and his wife and small child are in tow. Kaag sets off for the Swiss peaks above Sils Maria where Nietzsche wrote his landmark work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Both of Kaag’s journeys are made in search of the wisdom at the core of Nietzsche’s philosophy, yet they deliver him to radically different interpretations and, more crucially, revelations about the human condition.
Just as Kaag’s acclaimed debut, American Philosophy: A Love Story, seamlessly wove together his philosophical discoveries with his search for meaning, Hiking with Nietzsche is a fascinating exploration not only of Nietzsche’s ideals but of how his experience of living relates to us as individuals in the twenty-first century. Bold, intimate, and rich with insight, Hiking with Nietzsche is about defeating complacency, balancing sanity and madness, and coming to grips with the unobtainable. As Kaag hikes, alone or with his family, but always with Nietzsche, he recognizes that even slipping can be instructive. It is in the process of climbing, and through the inevitable missteps, that one has the chance, in Nietzsche’s words, to “become who you are."
The epic wisdom contained in a lost library helps the author turn his life around
John Kaag is a dispirited young philosopher at sea in his marriage and his career when he stumbles upon West Wind, a ruin of an estate in the hinterlands of New Hampshire that belonged to the eminent Harvard philosopher William Ernest Hocking. Hocking was one of the last true giants of American philosophy and a direct intellectual descendent of William James, the father of American philosophy and psychology, with whom Kaag feels a deep kinship. It is James’s question “Is life worth living?” that guides this remarkable book.
The books Kaag discovers in the Hocking library are crawling with insects and full of mold. But he resolves to restore them, as he immediately recognizes their importance. Not only does the library at West Wind contain handwritten notes from Whitman and inscriptions from Frost, but there are startlingly rare first editions of Hobbes, Descartes, and Kant. As Kaag begins to catalog and read through these priceless volumes, he embarks on a thrilling journey that leads him to the life-affirming tenets of American philosophy—self-reliance, pragmatism, and transcendence—and to a brilliant young Kantian who joins him in the restoration of the Hocking books.
Part intellectual history, part memoir, American Philosophy is ultimately about love, freedom, and the role that wisdom can play in turning one’s life around.
Use your imagination! The demand is as important as it is confusing. What is the imagination? What is its value? Where does it come from? And where is it going in a time when even the obscene mseems overdone and passé?
This book takes up these questions and argues for the centrality of imagination in humanmcognition. It traces the development of the imagination in Kant’s critical philosophy (particularly the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment) and claims that the insights of Kantian aesthetic theory, especially concerning the nature of creativity, common sense, and genius, influenced the development of nineteenth-century American philosophy.
The book identifies the central role of the imagination in the philosophy of Peirce, a role often overlooked in analytic treatments of his thought. The final chapters pursue the observation made by Kant and Peirce that imaginative genius is a type of natural gift (ingenium) and must in some way be continuous with the creative force of nature. It makes this final turn by way of contemporary studies of metaphor, embodied cognition, and cognitive neuroscience.
Als der junge Philosophieprofessor John Kaag im Hinterland von New Hampshire die vergessene Bibliothek von William Ernest Hocking, einem der letzten großen amerikanischen Denker entdeckt, traut er seinen Augen kaum. Unter den halb verfallenen und vermoderten Bänden findet er zahlreiche Schätze: handgeschriebene Notizen von Walt Whitman, annotierte Bücher aus dem Besitz von Robert Frost, zahllose Briefe von Pearl S. Buck – und sogar dutzende Erstausgaben der Werke europäischer Geistesgrößen. Er beschließt, die Bücher zu restaurieren und begibt sich damit auf eine intellektuelle Reise durch die Geistesgeschichte Amerikas und seiner europäischen Grundlagen. Bald schon merkt er, dass die großen, lebensbejahenden Ideen in diesen Büchern auch ganz praktisch zu Werkzeugen für das Umkrempeln seines eigenen Lebens verwendet werden können. Ganz besonders, als sich ihm eine brillante Kollegin anschließt und ihm bei der Arbeit am Bücherhaus hilft...
Dieses faszinierende Buch beinhaltet sowohl eine profunde Ideengeschichte Nordamerikas, als auch die mitreißende wahre Geschichte hinter der Entdeckung einer verschollenen Bibliothek. Eine bestens lesbare Autobiografie, die sich um die großen Fragen des Lebens dreht: Liebe, Freiheit, und welche Rolle das Denken spielen kann, wenn man sich selbst neu erfinden möchte.
One of the most significant and controversial developments in contemporary warfare is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones. In the last decade, US drone strikes have more than doubled and their deployment is transforming the way wars are fought across the globe. But how did drones claim such an important role in modern military planning? And how are they changing military strategy and the ethics of war and peace? What standards might effectively limit their use? Should there even be a limit?
Drone warfare is the first book to engage fully with the political, legal, and ethical dimensions of UAVs. In it, political scientist Sarah Kreps and philosopher John Kaag discuss the extraordinary expansion of drone programs from the Cold War to the present day and their so-called 'effectiveness' in conflict zones. Analysing the political implications of drone technology for foreign and domestic policy as well as public opinion, the authors go on to examine the strategic position of the United States - by far the world's most prolific employer of drones - to argue that US military supremacy could be used to enshrine a new set of international agreements and treaties aimed at controlling the use of UAVs in the future.