Feminist Interpretations of William James by Erin C. TarverFeminist Interpretations of William James by Erin C. Tarver

Feminist Interpretations of William James

EditorErin C. Tarver, Shannon Sullivan

Paperback | December 17, 2015

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Widely regarded as the father of American psychology, William James is by any measure a mammoth presence on the stage of pragmatist philosophy. But despite his indisputable influence on philosophical thinkers of all genders, men remain the movers and shakers in the Jamesian universe—while women exist primarily to support their endeavors and serve their needs. How could the philosophy of William James, a man devoted to Victorian ideals, be used to support feminism?

Feminist Interpretations of William James lays out the elements of James’s philosophy that are particularly problematic for feminism, offers a novel feminist approach to James’s ethical philosophy, and takes up epistemic contestations in and with James’s pragmatism. The results are surprising. In short, James’s philosophy can prove useful for feminist efforts to challenge sexism and male privilege, in spite of James himself.

In this latest installment of the Re-Reading the Canon series, contributors appeal to William James’s controversial texts not simply as an exercise in feminist critique but in the service of feminism.

Along with the editors, the contributors are Jeremy Carrette, Lorraine Code, Megan Craig, Susan Dieleman, Jacob L. Goodson, Maurice Hamington, Erin McKenna, José Medina, and Charlene Haddock Seigfried.

Erin C. Tarver is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Oxford College of Emory University.Shannon Sullivan is Chair of Philosophy and Professor of Philosophy and Health Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Erin C. Tarver is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Oxford College of Emory University.
Title:Feminist Interpretations of William JamesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.91 inPublished:December 17, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271070919

ISBN - 13:9780271070919

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Table of Contents



Nancy Tuana



Erin C. Tarver and Shannon Sullivan

Part I: The Promise and Peril of James’s Philosophy for Feminism

1 The Feminine-Mystical Threat to Masculine-Scientific Order

Charlene Haddock Seigfried

2 “The Woman Question”: James’s Negotiations with Natural Law Theory and Utilitarianism

Jacob L. Goodson

3 Women and William James

Erin McKenna

4 Lady Pragmatism and the Great Man: The Need for Feminist Pragmatism

Erin C. Tarver

Part II: Pragmatist Ethics of Care

5 The Energies of Women: William James and the Ethics of Care

Susan Dieleman

6 William James and the Will to Care for Unfamiliar Others: The Masculinity of Care?

Maurice Hamington

Part III: Embodiment and Emotion

7 Habit, Relaxation, and the Open Mind: James and the Increments of Ethical Freedom

Megan Craig

8 James and Feminist Philosophy of Emotion

Shannon Sullivan

9 “A Perverse Kind of Pleasure”: James, the Body, and Women’s Mystical Experience

Jeremy Carrette

Part IV: Epistemic and Narrative Contestations

10 The Will Not to Believe: Pragmatism, Oppression, and Standpoint Theory

José Medina

11 Incredulity and Advocacy: Thinking After William James

Lorraine Code


Charlene Haddock Seigfried


Editorial Reviews

“A welcome and lively contribution on William James, and adds significantly to the series’ wider reconstructive project. . . . James is here revealed warts-and-all, and that certainly is to the good of Jamesian scholarship, pragmatism, and feminist philosophy more generally.”

—Clara Fischer, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society