New Book: La philosophie comme attitude by Stéphane Madelrieux

Stéphane Madelrieux, La philosophie comme attitude, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2023,352 pages

Language: French

Code ISBN: 978-2-13-085447-0

Stephane Madelrieux is Professor of philosophy at University Jean Moulin – Lyon 3. He is the author of William James. L’attitude empiriste (Paris: Puf, 2008), La philosophie de John Dewey (Paris: Vrin, 2016) and more recently Philosophie des expériences radicales (Paris: Le Seuil, 2022). He is honorary president of Pragmata, the French-speaking association for pragmatist studies.

Back cover

Philosophy is not just a set of doctrines or methods: it’s also an attitude. Beyond doctrinal theses, and even beyond rules of method, we need to rediscover the intellectual and moral dispositions that make up the great philosophical attitudes. In particular, this book seeks to extend the tradition of the Enlightenment, for whom philosophy is first and foremost the exercise of a specific attitude, the critical mind, which disposes us to resist dogmatism. He defends and illustrates this idea through a detailed examination of pragmatist philosophy, for pragmatists have detected in the history of thought and culture the conflict between two major tendencies: the dogmatic, authoritarian attitude, and the critical, experimental attitude. Beyond their theories of truth or experience, beyond even their methods of clarification and inquiry, the promotion and extension of an anti-dogmatic, anti-authoritarian way of thinking into all areas of human life – from science to morality, politics and religion – is seen here as their most important and worthy project.


Introduction: Doctrine, method and attitude          


Chapter 1: Philosophy and temperament [James]

A Feast of visions      

A Storm of moods     

A Clash of tempers    

Chapter 2. In search of a philosophical method [James]

Religious creed or philosophical method?   

The dilemmas of the Will to believe           

The inquirer’s attitude

The will not to believe in God          

Chapter 3. The spirit of the pragmatic method [Peirce and James]

Two great intellectual orientations  

Restriction of inquiry

A priori categorization of experience

The systematic spirit

For a pragmatism without basis      

The English spirit       

The pragmatist method and the metaphysics of experience         

Chapter 4: Scientific method and moral virtues [Dewey and Rorty]

Pragmatism and anti-authoritarianism       

Method without identity       

Science without unity            

Rules without rigidity            

A useless method?    

Scientific inquiry and moral virtues


Chapter 5. Criticism without criteria [Rorty]

Critical philosophy and pragmatist metaphilosophy           

Therapy without dissolution

Overcoming without unveiling         

Contestation without emancipation

Chapter 6. Empiricism without ontology [James and Dewey]

Pure experience, a concept to be purified   

The metaphysics of babies   

A monistic ontology?

Cosmic marmalade and philosophical confusion    

Pure experience as a critical method           

Naturalistic reconstruction   

Chapter 7. Pluralism without dogma [James and Deleuze]

From pragmatist truth to pluralist reality   

The philosopher in Harlequin’s coat

A variety of pluralisms          

Experience and difference    

Chapter 8. Conversion without religion [James and Dewey]

Three experiences of conversion      

Reversal of perspective         

Mysticism and alcoholism    

Religion as attitude   

Theoretical deconversion      

Practical diversion