ABSTRACT

North American civilization, dominated by the United States, was made up of a number of differing strands. Two of these I shall deal with in other chapters – namely the African strand, and the other the Latino strand. The other ingredients can be summarized as follows. There is the Puritan or left-wing Protestant ingredient, founded in the desire of many to start a new life and even a heavenly city on the Western shore of the Atlantic. There was the emerging set of values of the Enlightenment, so important in framing the American constitution. There were the various kinds of Christianity, most notably Roman Catholicism. During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century these were amplified by the inpouring of so many migrants from Europe. The meld of varying sorts of Protestantism with the earlier Puritanism produced the forces of American Protestantism. Out of these also came the new religions of the US, such as Mormonism and Christian Science. Then there were the influences of European philosophy which stimulated a largely original indigenous set of American philosophies – we can think of such names as Emerson, Thoreau, Royce, James, Peirce, Dewey and Santayana. In the most recent times there has been a knitting together of European and American philosophy through the emergence of a technical philosophy, influenced by science, from Carnap and Quine to Davidson. Another ingredient in American culture has been the Jewish tradition, which has undergone various adaptations and transformations in this new milieu. Finally one can mention the renewal of Indian, that is to say Native American, tradition.