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American PragmatismA Religious Genealogy$
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M. Gail Hamner

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195155471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195155475.001.0001

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The “Puritan”: Mirror of America's Self‐Understanding

(p.10) Prologue
American Pragmatism

M. Gail Hamner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A brief look is taken at the meanings of the terms ‘Puritans’, ‘Puritanism’ and ‘Puritan imagery’, giving a clarification of what they mean, and how they affect the author's reading of the pragmatists. An examination is also made of how the meaning of ‘Puritan’ changed over the course of the nineteenth century. In order to establish the cultural force of Puritan imagery, an investigation is also made of the context and means by which the American pragmatists took hold of and reinvented certain European scientific concepts. By examining the appeals to Puritanism from the Second Great Awakening to the Civil War, and from Reconstruction to the Gilded Age, it is shown how at different times and on behalf of particular causes, different stories about the history and destiny of America were inflected, in selective and specialized ways, by this or the other understandings of Puritanism.

Keywords:   American pragmatism, Europe, pragmatism, Puritan imagery, Puritanism, Puritans, terminology, U.S.A

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