Talking American Literature and Culture: “The Pleasures of a Saint, the pleasures of a plant: William James, Walt Whitman, and the varieties of (an)hedonic experience”

  • Datum: –17.00
  • Plats: Zoommöte:
  • Föreläsare: Michael Jonik (Senior Lecturer in American Literature, University of Sussex)
  • Arrangör: Engelska institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Daniel Kane
  • Föreläsning

In his Principles of Psychology, William James ties his philosophy and psychology of sensation, will, consciousness and action to a theory of pleasure. Yet, in the key section, “Pleasure and Pain as Springs of Action” he is careful to dissociate his theory of pleasure from those “philosophers of pleasure” who assert a teleological relation between action and pleasure, i.e. that we act on the impulse of achieving a pleasurable end. In this talk, I will take as a point of departure, James’s discourse on pleasure in Principles, but my primary focus will be on a few sections from James’s later texts in which he further unfolds it: viz., his Talks to Teachers, his Varieties of Religious of Experience (arguably, if surprisingly, his fullest statement on pleasure), and his A Pluralistic Universe. I will, in the final analysis, explore James’s theory of pleasure through these three figures in William James: Whitman, the saint, and the plant.