Study Guide

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America Summary & Study Guide

Louis Menand
This Study Guide consists of approximately 80 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Metaphysical Club.
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The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America Summary & Study Guide Description

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand.

The Metaphysical Club discusses how the American thought processes in law, science, philosophy and religion were changed by four people. This way of thinking lasted until the beginning of the Cold War. The book is divided in to five parts plus a prologue and epilogue. The prologue prepares the reader and gives a short history that led to this new way of thinking. Each of the first four parts focuses on one of the people attributed to the creation of "pragmatism." The final part gives a revealing look at the decline of pragmatic thinking and the beginning of Cold War thinking. The Epilogue ends each person's story.

The Preface introduces the reader to the four main characters of the book: Oliver Wendell Holmes, William James, Charles S. Peirce and John Dewey. It gives a brief overview of thinking during the time of the Civil War. It gives the beginning of how these four men fashioned their beliefs because of the discoveries of the times.

Part 1 is an analysis of the life of Oliver Wendell Holmes. It gives detailed background into his life and the decisions he makes that will influence his career until his death. Part 2 is an analysis of the life of William James. It discusses his mental problems, his feelings of inadequacy and how even with obstacles placed in his path by his father, he became one of the most revered philosophers and thinkers in the years after the Civil War. Part 3 introduces Charles S. Peirce. It shows his brilliance and his faults. It explains how both of these factors destroyed him academically and physically, and how he died in almost complete obscurity with no credibility. Part 4 gives us the story of the youngest of this group, John Dewey. It shows how each of the other people influenced Dewey and put him on the path to achieving the goals of his mentors. Part 5 discusses the achievements of each of these men. It explains how these achievements influenced all facets of society from the Civil War until the beginning of the Cold War, when fear took over rational thought. The Epilogue closes the story of each of the men. It tells of their final days and their continued belief in the pragmatism to which they had devoted their lives.

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This section contains 385 words
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