The Metaphysical Club Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Metaphysical Club

Menand's study looks at the lives and thought of four representative American thinkers who variously ascribed to a philosophy known as pragamatism: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., William James, Charles Sanders Pierce, and Thomas Dewey. The first three met briefly in 1872 as the "Metaphysical Club," but their respect for and effects upon one another went much further than that. Menand concludes they were largely responsible for laying the foundations for free speech and thought in the U.S. today. Holmes was wounded three separate times in the Civil War, and concluded that certainty leads to violence, and no idea is worth dying for. Amazingly, he became a Supreme Court justice and lived into his 90s. James, psychologist brother of the novelist, was an intuitive, emotional thinker, who said: "Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true...." Other fascinating characters slip through the pages of this book: Jane Addams, Louis Agassiz, Emerson, and Darwin. Though philosophy is the subject, the book reads remarkably smoothly.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Metaphysical Club

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   philosopher Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1600-1899

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   teacher/professor Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   1 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   Midwest Century:    -   19th century

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A ton 16-20 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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