The Metaphysical Club Summary
Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2002
The story told in The Metaphysical Club runs through the lives of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a Civil War hero who became the dominant legal thinker of his time; his best friend as a young man, William James, son of an eccentric moral philosopher, brother of a great novelist, and the father of modern psychology in America; and the brilliant and troubled logician, scientist, and founder of semiotics, Charles Sanders Peirce. Together they belonged to an informal discussion group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872 and called itself the Metaphysical Club. The club was probably in existence for only nine months, and no records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea - an idea about ideas, about the role beliefs play in people's lives. This idea informs the writings of these three thinkers, and the work of the fourth figure in the book, John Dewey - student of Peirce, friend and ally of James, admirer of Holmes.