I wish to tell two stories here. The first, the briefer one, centers on the opening pages of William James's “The Sentiment of Rationality,” a seminal piece that helped launch James in the direction of pragmatism. The second, the bulk of the essay, focuses on a painting by Winslow Homer, The Morning Bell (ca. 1872, Figure 1), an early work that brings together Homer's interests in working-class figures, bucolic settings, and popular culture. There is little at first glance to link these two stories. While James proceeds to reinvent the notion of rationality, lending it an instrumental inflection that fits it for work in a postmetaphysical world, Homer conjures up images of rural New England for an audience still troubled by memories of the Civil War. Neither the subject of each work, nor their respective media, nor even their intended audiences, bear much in common.