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Collected Works of Newton P. Stallknecht

Newton P. Stallknecht, (1906‑1981), was born in East Orange, New Jersey, and was a graduate of Princeton University (B. A., 1927; M. A. , 1928; and Ph, D., 1930). He also studied at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Freiburg before 1930 when he became a member of the faculty of Bowdoin College, where he rose from instructor to professor. During World War II he served in the Signal Intelligence Corps of the U. S. Army for three years. In 1949 he was invited to Indiana University to be Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy. He later shifted his acad­emic address to the Department of Comparative Literature but became best known as the Director of the School of Letters for its illustrious twenty years at Indiana University. A remarkable teacher and essay­ist, "Stalky" was in all phases of his career a distin­guished professor of humane letters, wise colleague and trusted friend.


 To discover a mind which blends and balances erudition, insight, sensitivity, breadth and restraint is an experience both pleasant and profound. The volumes comprising this set of Newton P. Stallknecht's works vividly display such an intelligence. Our hope is that the reader will both share in the pleasure and appreciate the profundity.

The first volume, The Poem of the Mind: Studies in Literary Criticism and Aesthetics, is a collection of essays devoted to literary criticism and the philosophical aspects of literature. The second volume is Stallknecht's Strange Seas of Thought: Studies in William Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature, a classic work on Wordsworth as poet and thinker. Volume Three, Studies in the Philosophy of Creation: With Especial Reference to Bergson and Whitehead, emphasizes the attempts of Bergson and Whitehead to analyze the beguiling concept of creation. The final volume, A Voice of Magnanimity: Philosophical Essays, contains a selection of Stallknecht's philosophical essays spanning a broad range of problems and issues. Volumes Five and Six were co‑authored with Robert S. Brumbaugh, who taught for many years at Yale University. Volume Five, The Spirit of Western Philosophy, is an historical interpretation of Western philosophy from its Greek beginnings until the mid‑twentieth century, including selections from the major European philosophers. Volume Six, The Compass of Philosophy, bears the subtitle, "An essay in intellectual orientation," which aptly describes the fact that the work orients the reader among a set of four distinct philosophical traditions which pervade the Western tradition. Volume Seven,

 Reflections on Newton P. Stallknecht, contains a biographical essay on Stallknecht, reflections by former students and colleagues, an essay on the School of Letters at Indiana University, and a complete bibliography.

The reader wishing to become acquainted with Stallknecht's world will perhaps find useful a sketch of its general landscape and horizons. The fundamental principle underlying Stallknecht's thought is that philosopher and poet have both contributed significantly to the stores of human wisdom. Accordingly, the reader should be receptive to discussions containing ideas expressed and developed by philosophers and literary figures, sometimes in tandem, on other occasions separately. Stallknecht skillfully leads us through a world of common intimacies linking two forms of human creativity which their students have traditionally, since Plato, tended to keep isolated and on divergent paths.

This world encompasses a broad spectrum. Throughout his career, Stallknecht consistently exercised concern for a series of fundamental issues‑the nature of consciousness, the importance of imagination, the uniqueness of human creativity, the experience of art, the primacy of freedom, the structure of values, and a crowning concern‑the place of philosophy and literature in culture generally. His principal source of philosophical inspiration derives from the great German philosophers, especially Immanuel Kant, and these masters shape his thinking on the nature of consciousness and the importance of the imagination in funding the reality of creation. The experience of art is of cardinal importance not only as a privileged form of human endeavor but also, exemplified in Stallknecht's perceptive and profound analyses of philosophical poets such as William Wordsworth and Wallace Stevens, as the source of reflective vision concerning a wade variety of human concerns. Some of Stallknecht's most ennobling thoughts‑devoted to reflection on culture‑reflect this approach toward these seminal poets.

Stallknecht's writing is scholarly but never stilted. He is well aware of the author's responsibility to make expository and persuasive prose accessible to the widest possible audience. Thus the technical terminologies essential to both philosophy and literary criticism are employed with economy of expression as well as care and concern for the reader's awareness of the relevance of this language to the thoughtful discussion of the question. Although Stallknecht occasionally engages in scholarly disagreement, such discourse is always characterized by courtly restraint and an elegant gentility which is rare in academic exchanges. His writing is marked by an enduring high‑mindedness, a clear grasp that the questions, issues and ideas are the crucial matter‑not the common and often vulgar display of scoring rhetorical points on another observer of the literary or philosophical scene.

In one way this set of volumes is a partial record of Stallknecht's time, but in another it remains a crucible for fusing some of the most significant and influential moments in western thought with philosophical and literary movements, tendencies and figures, many very much still alive. For permeating Stallknecht's work is a broadly diverse and highly refined awareness of the whole, of culture in a broad sense. Furthermore, this integrative vision is sufficiently expansive to allow situating our personal experiences within our own literary and philosophical worlds.

 The following outline sketches the contents of volumes I through VI:

 The Poem of the Mind: Studies in Literary Criticism and Aesthetics by Newton Phelps Stallknecht, edited by Donald L. Jennermann and David White (The Collected Works of Newton P Stallknecht, Volume 1)

The essays collected in this volume are introductory as well as definitive—­they introduce the reader to the beautiful harmony Stallknecht beheld between literature and philosophy and they also contain a series of Stallknecht's most penetrating thoughts on this confluence of creativity. Individual poets—such as Wordsworth and Stevens—are studied and analyzed for their insights into consciousness, imagination, and poetry itself. The philosopher Kant provides a crucial pivot for much of the direction of Stallknecht's reflections and the reader will perceive Kant in a new light when his ideas are juxtaposed with the thoughtful reflections of the poets Stallknecht chooses to analyze. The volume also includes incisive discussions of general issues in aesthetics as well as reasoned speculation on the limits of logic when this formalized approach to M linguistic meaning is juxtaposed with the profundity of poetic discourse. 

Strange Seas of Thought: Studies in William Wordsworth's Philosophy of Man and Nature by Newton P. Stallknecht, edited by Donald L. Jennermann, David A. White, and Marilyn C. Bisch (Collected Works of Newton P. Stallknecht, Volume 2 The Edwin Mellen Press)

This study of Wordsworth's poetry and philosophy first appeared in 1945 and was reprinted, with several short appendices, in 1958. Stallknecht traces the influence on Wordsworth of German mysticism, Kant and idealism as filtered through Coleridge. The disparate effects of Spinoza and the British psychologists on Wordsworth's thinking are also described, as well as intriguing congruencies between Wordsworth and twentieth‑century philosophical giants such as Dewey and Whitehead. A comprehensive and nuanced account of Wordsworth's distinctive pantheistic vision of nature is flanked by Stallknecht's development of an implied theory of perception as well as "the ethics of imagination"‑the primacy of imagination in human experience generally and moral matters in particular. Stallknecht offers a cogent resolution of the internal conflict in Wordsworth's poetry between the stern demands of a rigidified sense of duty and the limitless reaches of imagination. The reader who embarks on this journey will experience seas of thought both strange and wonderful in their sweep and grandeur.

 Studies in the Philosophy of Creation|/a> With Especial Reference to Bergson and Whitehead: With Especial Reference to Bergson and Whitehead by Newton P. Stallknecht, edited by Donald L. Jennermann, David A. White, and Marilyn C. Bisch (Collected Works of Newton P. Stallknecht, Volume 3: The Edwin`Mellen Press)

This remarkable work, published when the author was 28, contains a clearly stated vision of the purpose of philosophy, a vision which Stallknecht maintained and deepened throughout a lifetime of reflection. The sense in which creation can be seen as one of‑if not the‑fundamental questions of philosophy emerges from the historical background of ancient and modem philosophy outlined by Stallknecht. Henri Bergson serves as the primary focus as far as sustained analysis of creation is concerned. However, other contemporaries of Bergson are also discussed and a substantial and precise treatment of Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy of organism shows how Whitehead's profound yet dense thinking complements and extends the Bergsonian approach toward creation. Attention is paid throughout the work to the function of creativity in the worlds of literature.

 Volume IV -A Voice of Magnanimity: Philosophical Essays

Newton Stallknecht was extremely well‑versed in the major figures in the history of philosophy. The initial articles in this volume encompass several sustained reflections on the thought of Immanuel Kant as well as an extensive discussion of George Santayana, one of the American philosophers whose work influenced Stallknecht's own thinking. The subsequent sections are divided into four areas‑metaphysics and epistemology, the ethical dimension, aesthetics, and reflections on French existentialism with an emphasis on the complexities of human experience and freedom as the dominant value defining the human condition. The treatments of metaphysics and epistemology focus on the nature of consciousness and the pivotal importance of creation and imagination in interpreting the meaning of possibility. Stallknecht's cosmopolitan approach to philosophical questions is such that discussion of a given issue frequently encompasses a comparative review of related positions by thinkers of different eras and apparently distinct traditions. The reader thus wins an informed perspective on relevant points in the history of philosophy as filtered through the particular issue under analysis. 

Volume V-The Spirit of Western Philosophy: An Historical Interpretation

This work, intended as a textbook for undergraduates and also as a reader for the literate layperson, is a survey of Western philosophy from its beginnings until the mid‑point of the twentieth century. The chapters are divided according to the traditional historical markers‑e.g., Plato, Aristotle, the British Empiricists, Kant, German Idealism. Stallknecht and Brumbaugh also provide chapters on the major movements in philosophy from 1850 until 1950, and discussions of moral philosophy as well as symbolic logic. Of special note are chapters on early Christianity and its effect on philosophical thought in the Middle Ages and a chapter devoted to the question of interaction between mind and body in Descartes. Each chapter blends selected primary sources of the philosophers discussed with clear development and incisive, on occasion critical, interpretation. This is a challenging work and will reward the careful and conscientious reader with a detailed and thoughtful treatment of the high points in Western philosophy. 

Volume VI-The Compass of Philosophy: An Essay in Intellectual Orientation

This volume appeared in 1954 and is a companion to The Spirit of Western Philosophy, published four years earlier. Here Stallknecht and Brumbaugh distinguish the variegated voices of Western philosophy into four general types—­Mechanism, Formalism, Naturalism, and Philosophy of Creation. The volume begins with Stallknecht's remarkable essay on "the philosophical enterprise" and is followed by chapters on the four types. Each discussion cites the foremost philosophical exponents of that particular arena of thought but the overall development of each type is both reflective and critical, requiring the reader to think through the emergent problems and to make a personal decision concerning its persuasiveness. The volume also includes chapters on existentialism and decision, philosophical methods, and a concluding postscript with historical information on the major figures animating Western philosophy. In identifying and developing these four fundamental types of philosophy, The Compass of Philosophy is itself a significant philosophical achievement. The careful reader of this work will receive a thorough grounding in four classic and profound ways of approaching the world. As such, the work provides a fitting conclusion to Stallknecht's own comprehensive and penetrating visions of Western philosophical thought.

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