Thinking about Animals: James, Wittgenstein, Hearne

Main Article Content

Russell B. Goodman


In this paper I reconsider James and Wittgenstein, not in the quest for what Wittgenstein might have learned from James, or for an answer to the question whether Wittgenstein was a pragmatist, but in an effort to see what these and other related but quite different thinkers can help us to see about animals, including ourselves. I follow Cora Diamond’s lead in discussing a late paper by Vicki Hearne entitled “A Taxonomy of Knowing: Animals Captive, Free-Ranging, and at Liberty” (1995), which draws on Wittgenstein and offers some insights that accord with pragmatist accounts of knowledge.
Invited Paper
Author Biography

Russell B. Goodman, University of New Mexico

Russell B. Goodman received degrees in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, Oxford and Johns Hopkins, and is now Professor of Philosophy and Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of American Philosophy and the Romantic Tradition (Cambridge, 1990), Wittgenstein and William James (Cambridge, 2002), and American Philosophy before Pragmatism (Oxford, 2015); and editor of Pragmatism: A Contemporary Reader (Routledge, 1995), Pragmatism: Critical Concepts in Philosophy (Routledge, 2005), and Contending with Stanley Cavell (Oxford, 2005).


Cavell, S., 1979. The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cavell, S., 1989. “Declining Decline: Wittgenstein as a Philosopher of Culture”. In: This New Yet Unapproachable America. Albuquerque, NM: Living Batch Press, pp. 29-75.

Coetzee, J., 2003. Elizabeth Costello. New York: Viking Penguin.

Diamond, C., 2008. “The Difficulty of Philosophy and the Difficulty of Reality”. In: Philosophy and Animal Life (eds. S. Cavell, C. Diamond, J. McDowell, I. Hacking, C Wolfe). New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 43-89. (Originally published in Partial Answers 1:2 (2003), pp. 1-26.)

Emerson, R. 1983. Essays and Lectures. New York: Library of America.

Goodman, R. 2002. Wittgenstein and William James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hearne, V., 1986. Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name. New York: Knopf.

Hearne, V., 2007 (1991). Bandit: The Heart-Warming True Story of One Dog’s Rescue from Death Row. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

Hearne, V. 1994. Animal Happiness: A Moving Exploration of Animals and Their Emotions. New York: Harper Collins.

Hearne, V. 1995. “A Taxonomy of Knowing: Animals Captive, Free-Ranging, and at Liberty”. Social Research 62, no.3, pp. 441-456.

James, W., 1975 (1907). Pragmatism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

James, W., 1981 (1890). The Principles of Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

James, W., 1987a. “Vivisection”. In: Essays, Comments, and Reviews. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987, pp. 10-13. (Originally published unsigned, in the Nation 20,
February, 1875.)

James, W., 1987b. Writings 1902-1910. New York: Library of America.

James, W., 1992. Writings 1878-1899. New York: Library of America.

Levinas, E., 1998. Entre Nous: on thinking-of-the-other. New York: Columbia University Press.

Nagel, Thomas 1974. “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Philosophical Review LXXXIII, no 4, pp. 435-50.

Richardson, R., 2006. William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Schlick, M. 1979. “On the Meaning of Life” (trans. Peter Heath). In: Philosophical Papers vol. 2 (1925-36) (ed. H. Mulder and B. van de Velde-Schlick). Dordrecht: D. Reidel, pp. 112-123. (Originally published as “Vom Sinn des Lebens”. Symposion 1 (1927), pp. 331-354.)

Thoreau, H., 1971 (1854). Walden. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Wittgenstein, L. 2009. Philosophical Investigations, trans. E. Anscombe, P. Hacker, and J. Schulte. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell [PI, PPF].