The Metaphysical Club was a conversational philosophical club that the future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the philosopher and psychologist William James, and the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce formed in January 1872 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and dissolved in December 1872. Upon Peirce's arrival at Johns Hopkins University in 1879, he founded a new Metaphysical Club there. Despite the name, these academic philosophical discussion groups pursued critical thinking of a pragmatist and positivist nature and rejected the radical foundationalist European metaphysics, in favor of a moderate foundationalism. In fact, it was within these philosophical discussions that pragmatism is said to have been born.
Other members of the club included Chauncey Wright, John Fiske, Francis Ellingwood Abbot, Nicholas St. John Green, and Joseph Bangs Warner. The Metaphysical Club is never mentioned by any person within the club other than Peirce. The only other known person to have mentioned the club was Henry James, the great novelist and brother of William James.
The Metaphysical Club is a 2002 Pulitzer-Prize-winning book by Louis Menand about Holmes, James, and Peirce. While it ventures into many different directions, covering topics in American history, notable pioneers of American higher education and philosophy, it mainly concerns the erosion of metaphysics and its eventual replacement by pragmatism as a dominant force in shaping American philosophy and its conception of ideas. The title of the book stems from the club formed by Holmes, James and Peirce. It was founded and dissolved in 1872, and has no direct connection with the New Thought movement.
The book is split up into five sections. Four of those sections are biographical sketches of Holmes, James, Peirce, and John Dewey (although Dewey was not a part of the club, he is considered one of the central American pragmatists). Within these sketches, Menand also discusses various other thinkers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Chauncey Wright, Louis Agassiz, and others.