INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN HUMANIDADES Y CIENCIAS SOCIALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Pragmatism in Orbis Tertius. J. L. Borges´s Reading of James
The Inter-American Journal of Philosophy
Lugar: College Station; Año: 2011 vol. II p. 46 - 46
Many have emphasized Borges?s interest in philosophical doctrines throughout his work; less evident was his enduring interest in American pragmatism, particularly James. In 1945 Borges wrote a preliminary note for the Spanish translation of the 1906 Lowell Lectures published as Pragmatism; by the end of his life he writes another prologue for another book by James, this time the edition of the collection of books ?My personal library? gave Borges the occasion to select the books he would consider ?unavoidable reading.? The selection included James´s The Varieties of Religious Experience. In the prologue Borges outlines a definition of pragmatism as an anti-deterministic thought and postulates James?s commitment to metaphysical idealism. As I expect to show these themes are recurrent in Borges and reflect some key ideas in his writing as well as a fundamental issue of Jamesian scholarship. But before I can address this substantive issue I will focus on the content of the prologues and their apparent inconsistencies concerning the metaphysical consequences of pragmatism (II). Thus after a brief overview I will examine James´s version of the paradox of the infinite and its connections with his conception of time, which, according to Borges, constitutes the fundamental notion sustaining idealism (III) and in the final sections of this essay I will analyze the results of the previous sections in order to explain why Borges thought they might be employed to conclude that the subject matter of philosophy can be regarded as a branch of literature (IV). The world of literature is a product of the will and its fundamental stuff is experience. By assimilating the fictitious worlds of literature and those created by philosophers Borges can find in James?s arguments a confirmation of his own views.