➻ Arthur Lovejoy [1873-1962]

por Teoría de la historia

lovejoy4Besides being a pivotal architect for the history of ideas movement and instrumental in establishing academic freedom and the professionalization of philosophy, Arthur Lovejoy (Oncken Schauffler) (1873-1962) was also an engaged and active philosopher in his own right. He studied at the University of California and Harvard University under William James and Josiah Royce, taught at Washington University, Columbia, the University of Missouri, and spent the majority of his career at Johns Hopkins University from 1910 to 1938. As philosopher, Lovejoy focuses on the theory of knowledge, and his developed position of Critical Realism responds to Idealism, Pragmatism, and Neo-Realism, all prominent philosophical perspectives in America in the early twentieth century. His Critical Realism offers a dualism between an object of knowledge and an external, physical object to counter Neo-Realism’s epistemological monism that connects an object with the medium of knowledge, resulting in his emphasis on the independence of physical objects. The dualism involved in Lovejoy’s Critical Realism is related both to an epistemological dualism between the perceived content and the object behind the content, as well as a psychophysical dualism between the realm of the mind and the physical world. The former suggests that objects are always mediated and hence distinct from the object perceived, while the latter reflects a clear separation between the mental and physical worlds. The Revolt Against Dualism -his most philosophically acknowledged work- contains his critique of Idealism, Pragmatism, and Neo-Realism. Lovejoy was opposed to the idea that we only know our ideas about objects (the claim of Descartes as representative realist); he contended that we know objects directly through ideas (a “mentalistic realism”). Due to Lovejoy’s difference between the reality of the physical world and the world of ideas, he valorizes the world of abstract ideas, connecting his philosophical perspective with his interest in historical examination. The history of ideas focuses on core themes and concepts (“unit-ideas”) that motivate and condition thought through an empirical, textual study that looks for unit-ideas across a wide range of sources. This method is best exemplified in The Great Chain of Being, which contributed to establishing the history of ideas as a valid subfield through its investigation of the concepts of plenitude, continuity, and gradation from their Greek origins through to their influence on Enlightenment and Romantic thought. His conclusion ultimately denied the intelligibility of static, monistic, absolute models of the universe due in part to the rise and acceptance of evolutionary ideas. As a result of his efforts, Journal for the History of Ideas first came to print in 1940 and has enjoyed success ever since. Lovejoy served the academy by helping to establish the American Philosophical Association and the American Association of University Professors in 1913 (along with John Dewey). He played an essential role in early efforts at academic freedom (although with limitations during the McCarthy Era) and helped initiate the professionalization of philosophy in America by lobbying to establish rigorous methods and standards to ensure philosophical intelligibility -the overriding criterion of all his work.

[David PERLEY. “Arthur Lovejoy”, in John LACHS and Robert B. TALISSE (editors). American Philosophy. An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2008, p. 484]