chapter  16
17 Pages

American Experimentalism

WithHarvey Cormier

This chapter explains the philosophical picture of race and compare it with that of William James student W. E. B. Du Bois. James's and Du Bois's two pictures may seem very different; James's view is so naturalistic that one’s can think of his "races" as biological phenomena like species, while Du Bois made a point of describing race as a kind of social construction that is apart from biology. James described his pragmatism as "the empiricist temper regnant." W. E. B. Du Bois fought Spencer's kind of scientism and mechanism regarding race in his own way. In his well-known historical and sociological studies of African American communities and in his literary essays and fiction examining black life and culture, the black race was not a biological taxon that could be discerned by means of inherited physical characteristics. Du Bois developed his distinctive picture of race under the influence of both American and German teachers.