Aesthetics | Encyclopaedia Britannica | 15 edition

Stephen C. Pepper was a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, that was released in 1974 (and seemed to be the current resource through 2012).

A critical review of the Aesthetics entry specifically mentions Pepper. The section on Aesthetics doesn’t seem to follow the “clans” with a British orientation, with American and/or Continental points of view.

One of the articles that overrides to an admirable extent the clannishness exhibited thus far is the entry on “Aesthetics” by Stephen Pepper and Thomas Munro. The discussion not only includes the historical and contemporary options of the West, but also considers in some detail the interpretations presented by the Orient, the special province of Thomas Munro in this work. This is the only article in the systematic section that gives substantial attention to the Orient, a direction future editors of the Encyclopaedia should be encouraged to follow as a matter of policy in an increasingly global society. And at the same time, the article exhibits more than casual acquaintance with work being done in the sciences on aesthetics. Pepper recommends the study of aesthetics, among other things, as a case study for the philosophy of science, for it is a discipline in process of breaking away from philosophy to become a specialty in its own right. [p 727]

Philosophy is thus viewed as general comprehension and the seat of future specialties. Pepper basically divides approaches to the field into naturalist-hedonistic theories which have been developed in the direction of the scientific approach, and “non-scientific” approaches. The latter category begins with Kant’s analysis of the insight into deeper values afforded by the genius through the harmonization of understanding and sensibility. It includes contextualist emphases upon the qualities that are the objects of experience, organistic emphases upon the wholeness of experience with its objects, formistic emphases upon imitation of the object, expressionist theories, mystical theories as well as linguistic analytical theories. The Oriental section underscores the mystical interpretation, though Munro goes out of his way, by repeating it several times, to claim the possibility of a naturalist interpretation. Pepper’s conclusion calls for an integration of the varying non-scientific approaches with the scientifie, since the aesthetic ought not only to be studied “from without,” but most especially lived through and reflected upon “from within.” [pp. 727-728]

Two deficiencies in an otherwise excellent article might be noted. The limitation of Plato’s notion of art to imitation omits the distinction between imitative artists and divine artists in the Phaedrus and fails to consider Plato’s own practice in myth-making at the end of the Republic. Secondly, Pepper’s description of the limitation of Gestalt theory to dealing with the object does not give any attention to the Leipzig Gestaltists Felix Krueger, Wilhelm Stern, and Philipp Lersch who focused attention upon the status of feeling. But these are minor limitations in an otherwise admirable exposition. [p. 728]


Wood, Robert E. 1977. “Philosophy in the New Encyclopaedia Britannica.” The Review of Metaphysics 30 (4): 715–52.


#aesthetics, #stephen-c-pepper

Root Metaphor: The Live Thought of Stephen C. Pepper (1980)

For scholars seeking references to the articles published in special issue of Paunch (1980) on the work of Stephen C. Pepper, the pursuit will seem elusive. Fortunately, the editor in chief, Art Efron, put the contents on the open Internet. Although he’s Efron has since retired and the web pages are gone, the content has been preserved on the Internet Archive!

This issue of Paunch is devoted entirely to the philosophy of S.C. Pepper. Eventually all twenty of the essays will be available at this site including the painting by Hiroshige, “The Shono Station.” The essays will be individually listed on this page but can also be accessed through the Table of Contents by clicking on Paunch link at the beginning of this paragraph.

“Work Related to Pepper”, at
Utagawa Hiroshige (1933) Driving Rain at Shono (Station 46) from the series Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido [described at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and displayed on Flickr as “Shono, 45è station du Tokaido (Musée Guimet / MNAAG, Paris)” by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra as part of a temporary exhibition “Sur la route du Tokaido” in 2019.

The 221-page issue was reviewed in a variety of philosophy journals.

This special edition edition of of Paunch magazine magazine presents essays on Stephen C. Pepper’s theory of root metaphor, developed in in World Hypotheses, and its extensions to aesthetics aesthetics and art criticism. [p. 90] [….]

The order of presentation of these essays generally follows Pepper’s original view, beginning with the general theory of root metaphor in metaphysics, then moving to more special applications in aesthetics. Arthur Efron in a 42-page Introduction indicates that Pepper’s attempt was not to devise a metaphysical theory, but to determine a procedure for testing truth claims, a method for understanding any metaphysical theory. And Pepper clearly saw here no sharp division between philosophy, psychology (especially psychology of visual perception), and physiology. Pepper, Efron claims, “is the only one to argue consistently that actually there are only four or five relatively adequate views” in metaphysics. Relations may be found here, however, with Irwin Edman’s Four Ways of Philosophy, which was published in 1937, the same year as Aesthetic Quality. There is no question that Pepper was in close contact not only with Dewey but with Edman as well—Columbia University’s professor of “Philosophy of Art and Theory of Criticism.” Elmer H. Duncan writes about why he believes “Pepper should be considered one of the greatest philosophers of this century” (p. 64). Of the general commentators on Pepper’s theory of root metaphor, only Charles Hartshorne is seriously negative. [p. 91] [….]

It is clear that the hope of many of these writers is to help rectify the eclipse of Pepper’s metaphysical and aesthetic theory by the domination in recent decades of analytical philosophy. But the suggestion in many places that the significance of Pepper’s thought is to be found in its practical application—not only to art criticism, but to psychology, gerontology, the teaching of humanities, or even to library science (see p. 34) — bypasses the kind of logical argument needed to defend the significance of Pepper’s thought on a philosophical level. The telling criticisms of Hartshorne or Yanal remain unanswered by notes of practical usefulness.

Harrell, Jean G. 1980. Review of Root Metaphor: The Live Thought of Stephen C. Pepper, by Arthur Efron and John Herold. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (1): 90–92., .

Pepper’s work in aesthetics was closely linked to his contributions to value theory and to metaphysics. In value theory he extended the cognitive naturalism of Ralph Barton Perry in conjunction with the purposive behaviorism of Edward Tolman. In 1947 Pepper presented his value theory in compact form in A Digest of Purposive Values, and elaborated it in comprehensive, technical detail in Sources of Value (1958). His textbook, Ethics (1960), offers a social adjustment theory of morality; it contains, in compressed and elementary form, his general theory of value based on the concept of the selective system as the unifying principle. In metaphysics, Pepper’s book, World Hypotheses (1942), is a minor, contemporary classic. Against the anti-metaphysical positivisms of his time, Pepper treated metaphysical theories as world hypotheses, and traced their origin to root metaphors drawn from ordinary experience. He then argued that there are only four adequate world hypotheses – formism, mechanism, organicism, and contextualism; and, further, that these world hypotheses are equally adequate and autonomous. Then in his 1961 Carus lectures, published as as Concept and Quality (1967), Pepper advanced a fifth world hypothesis — selectivism — as his own. [pp. 66-67].

Despite the quantity and quality of his works, Pepper, like so many of his philosophical compatriots, has been neglected by the contemporary American community of professional philosophers. Perhaps the present volume under review will usher in a period of deserved critical appre- ciation of Pepper’s thought, although it is noteworthy that its editors, Arthur Efron and John Herold, are not professional philosophers, but an English professor and a professor of literature and music appreciation respectively. Nonetheless, the volume of essays they have assembled and to which they have ably contributed will reward the attention of philosophers. Arthur Efron introduces the volume with a long essay (pp. 5-53) which provides not only a probing interpretation of Pepper’s thought but also a helpful overview of significant commentary on it, including the contents of the volume under review. For a judicious assessment of Pepper’s continuing value, Efron’s essay is highly recommended. [p. 67]

Reck, Andrew J. 1981. Review of Review of Root Metaphor: The Live Thought of Stephen C. Pepper, by Arthur Efron and John Herold. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 17 (1): 65–69. .

In the poetry collection of the University of Buffalo is a collection of “Paunch Magazine records (Art Efron)” with the note, “This collection has not yet been fully processed”.

Paunch, the journal of literary criticism founded by longtime UB English faculty member Art Efron, endured for 37 years and became a home for radical ideas and different genres.

Efron, who retired from UB in 2005 after more than 40 years on the faculty, will share behind-the-scenes stories of Paunch ….

Wuetcher, Sue. 2016. “Efron to Share Behind-the-Scenes Stories of Paunch.” Research News. UBNow (blog). May 16, 2016. .

#contextualism, #paunch, #stephen-c-pepper

Stephen Pepper’s “World Hypotheses” | TOK-SOCIETY-L@LISTSERV.JMU.EDU | 2018

A rich discussion on “Stephen Pepper’s World Hypotheses” was begun in January 2018 on the Theory Of Knowledge listserv at , led by Steven Quackenbush at the University of Maine, Farmington

2018-01-07 First episode at;533b5a05.1801

2018-01-24 Season 1, Episode 2 at;cb6d2f1b.1801&S=

2018-01-21 Season 1, Episode 3 at;c93812d7.1801&S=

2018-01-28 Penultimate Episode at;a36f9d53.1801&S= , with Conceptualism.pdf at–089e082767f0df56290563e1c630&T=application%2Fpdf;%20name=%22Contextualism.pdf%22&N=Contextualism.pdf&attachment=q&XSS=3

2018-02-04 Season Finale at;5f06bad6.1802&S= , with Organicism.pdf at–94eb2c14aa7c2c95a0056469034f&T=application%2Fpdf;%20name=%22Organicism.pdf%22&N=Organicism.pdf&attachment=q&XSS=3

#conceptualism, #organicism, #stephen-c-pepper, #world-hypotheses

Archive of Work related to Stephen C. Pepper ~ 1989 | Bill J. Harrell

In reading Daley (2000), I noted the following footnote.

I would like to thank Bill J. Harrell, recently retired professor at the department of Sociology and Anthropology at S.U.N.Y. Institute of Technology, for his time and helpful claficiation relative to the work of Stephen C. Pepper. In addition I refer the read to Harrell’s web page at ( [sic, dead link, available at ] where he has assembled articles related to Pepper’s work in a variety of disciplines, a Pepper list for communication between researchers using Pepper’s ideas, and more. Also, refer to the Stephen C. Pepper homepage organized and maintained by Bill Harrell at ( [sic, dead link, available on Internet Archive] (p. 62)

The Stephen C. Pepper archive, apparently last updated in 3/89, was available until 2007, at

On the page “Links to Webpages Related to S.C. Pepper” at is a mention of a special issue of The Journal of Mind and Behavior,

The “Work Related to Pepper” page at has some resources that aren’t readily accessible anywhere, including:


Daley, Michael C. 2000. “An Image of Enduring Plurality in Economic Theory: The Root -Metaphor Theory of Stephen C Pepper.” Doctoral dissertation, Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire. .

Stephen C. Pepper Home Page
#paunch, #stephen-c-pepper, #world-hypotheses

Autopoiesis as in the contextualist root metaphor | Mancing, Marston-William (2022)

Autopoiesis, as coined by Humberto Maturana, is in the contextualist root metaphor of Stephen C. Pepper, rather than the organismic root metaphor, say #HowardMancing and #JenniferMarstonWilliam @PurdueLibArts .

The reference to Pepper comes through Diane Gillespie, working in cognitive psychology.

In place of mechanism, Gillespie proposes the worldview Pepper calls contextualism. The root metaphor of contextualism, she notes, is the historical event:

  • For the contextualist, experience consists of total events that are rich in features… . Because the event takes up the knower in the known, contextualism is an interactive, dynamic worldview. Moreover, nothing in the event is permanent or immutable because each particular changes with the flux of time. The contextualist focuses on the richness of experience and on shared meanings that arise out of interaction with others. Truth lies in the process of taking up the whole context of the event … And so meaning is embodied in our experience of the world. (18)

In contrast to Gardner’s (1985) definition of cognitive science, with its emphasis on empirical methods and its strong cognitivist orientation, Gillespie defines the field as one which “poses fundamental questions about knowing and acting, about how we come to understand our experiences in the world” (1). [p. 283]

The philosophical orientation is clarified.

Contextualism is always explicitly situated in the real world and in the actual activities of living organisms; as Pepper indicates (1942, 141), it is closely associated with pragmatism. If cognitivism ignores or removes context to isolate mind from body and body from environment, a contextualist approach does exactly the opposite. contextualism always maintains a sense of the past, both the historical past and the past of an individual’s personal experiences. [pp. 283-284]

Referring to the inspiration for autopoiesis by Matarana, the contrast with an organismic root metaphor is described.

Pioneering proponents of our embodied reality were the neurobiologists Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela. Following up on their earlier collaborative work (1980; originally published in Spanish in 1973), the two collaborated on The Tree of Knowledge (1992), an introduction to the biology of understanding built around the concept of autopoiesis. Maturana has described how he coined the term that became central to his and Varela’s work:

  • It was in these circumstances that one day, while talking with a friend (José Bulmes) about an essay of his on Don Quixote de la Mancha, in which he analyzed Don Quixote’s dilemma of whether to follow the path of arms (praxis, action) or the path of letters (poiesis, creation, production), and his eventual choice of the path of praxis deferring any attempt at poiesis, I understood for the first time the power of the word “poiesis” and invented the word that we needed: autopoiesis. This was a word without a history, a word that could directly mean what takes place in the dynamics of the autonomy proper to living systems. (1980, xvii) [p. 285]

It is interesting that this Contextualist biologist finds inspiration in literature, something that no bona fide Cognitivist would consider doing.

For Maturana and Varela, the paradigmatic model of an autopoietic system is the living cell, which constantly makes and remakes itself in conjunction with its surroundings. In contrast to most traditional work in biology, Maturana and Varela contextualize the organism within its environment. The result of this contextualization, they propose, is the need for the autopoietic (i.e., self-organizing, or self-making) organism to “bring forth” its cognitive world; that is, to create its own pragmatic understanding of its relation to external reality. Thus cognition becomes self-defining action: “All doing is knowing, and all knowing is doing” (1992, 26); “to live is to know (living is effective action in existence as a living being)” (174). As we will see below, these ideas echo throughout the recent work of numerous contemporary biologists, psychologists, and philosophers. Further, the similarity between this concept of biology and Bakhtin’s contextualized, dialogic, emergent approach to language also becomes clear.

An animal, unlike a machine, is an “autopoietic system” in the sense that “it pulls itself up by its own bootstraps and becomes distinct from its environment through its own dynamics, in such a way that both things are inseparable” (46–47). This organism-environment inseparability comes about by means of a process Maturana and Varela call “structural coupling,” the result of “recurrent interactions leading to the structural congruence between two (or more) systems” (75).1 For human beings, everything we do is part of “a world brought forth in coexistence with other people” (239). Maturana and Varela insist—completely obviating the validity of any subject-object, mind-body, self-other, or nature-nurture dualism—that knowledge is “enactive,” that “human cognition as effective action pertains to the biological domain, but it is always lived in a cultural tradition … for cognition is effective action; and as we know how we know, we bring forth ourselves” (244; see also Varela 1992). [p. 286]

Philosophically, autopoiesis in a contextualist root metaphor illustrates how an authentic systems approch is not reductive.


Mancing, Howard, and Jennifer Marston William. 2022. “Contextualism.” In Restoring the Human Context to Literary and Performance Studies: Voices in Everything, edited by Howard Mancing and Jennifer Marston William, 281–306. Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance. Cham: Springer International Publishing. .

#autopoiesis, #root-metaphor, #stephen-c-pepper, #world-hypotheses