Dr. Pete Kuryla, associate professor of history, has published a chapter in a book about the transatlantic dimensions of the thought and life of the American philosopher William James. The book, William James and the Transatlantic Conversation: Pragmatism, Pluralism, and the Philosophy of Religion, published by Oxford University Press, is edited by Martin Halliwell and Joel Rasmussen. It features chapters authored by a transatlantic group of philosophers and intellectual historians. Kuryla’s chapter is entitled “Vastations and Prosthetics: Henry James Sr. and the Transatlantic Education of William and Henry James.” In the chapter, Kuryla explores the ways that William James, in his philosophy and in his psychological research, recapitulated, in poetic terms, the trauma that followed his father Henry’s loss of a leg at the age of thirteen. In other words, the father and his famous sons explored dimensions of reality by means of poetic mediations designed to reveal the inability of human beings to fully represent that reality. All three men used literary devices or tricks—prostheses of a sort—to explore hidden or often unobserved corners of reality and, in doing so, hid or falsified features of their autobiographies, thereby fracturing the self in order to explore the complexities of selfhood.
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