Couldn’t agree more, John. I think Marco’s ‘list of dubious words’ (my phrasing) pointed out quite vividly that even (I’ll go a bit overboard:) politically incorrect or stodgy or antiquated language doesn’t obscure the message if the message is (a) intelligible and (b) worth being heard.
I could well imagine a café session or two – not regularly, but every once in a while – focused on one of the truly greats – and you mention a couple of the most relevant ones: Peirce, James, Myers, Whitehead – would be a worthwhile exercise in not only expanding our content-horizons, if you will, but our linguistic and expressive horizons as well. I have found, for example, that reading German sometimes simply shatters complacent cognitive (and affective!) structures that I’ve been schlepping around and that are getting in the way. It’s the radical change in vocabulary, diction, concepts, and approach that de-center us in a most positive way. (I’ve read the first couple of chapters of Tillich’s Love, Power and Justice and there, too, one senses a continental-germanic mode of analysis that is quite different from the Anglo-American. Not that one is “better” than the other … no, they are only different … but it helps getting that slightly different perspective on one’s own view of things. (I know I rail against the (predominantly French) postmodernists – and justifiably so, IMNSHO – but, even they get me off-center enough to appreciate, if nothing else, that off-centeredness.) Older styles can be every bit as effective as foreign languages.
A little related anecdote:
Back in the early 80s, during my first sojourn in Germany, I took a course to get a teaching credential for protestant (as opposed to Roman Catholic) religious instruction (still a course in German secondary schools). While we were working through the block on biblical exegesis of the New Testament, we read about John the Baptist wandering through the desert (which could have been anywhere, as anyone who’s ever been to Israel/Palestine would know) crying “Repent, repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (or so says my KJV). Well, in German, what he’s proclaiming is – according to Luther – Kehr um, kehr um, denn das Reich Gottes ist nah. (lit. “Turn around, turn around, because the kingdom of G-d is near.”) In English, “repent” has a very definite, and if I may say so, rather pejorative, negative connotation. “To turn around” is much more inviting, to say the least. All it says is, "Hey, your pretty focused on where you’re headed, but if you just (stopped) and turned around, you just might find what you’re looking for. It turns out that this “turning around”, or just looking at things quite differently than you have been, or maybe even just opposite of what you’ve been thinking. That’s a whole different ballgame than (ugh) repentance. When you look in the original, in the Greek, what he’s saying is metanoiete (lit.: “change your mind, or change your thinking”) and all of sudden, the rather poor Latin and Greek scholar Luther is closer to hitting the nail on the head than all those Jacobian/KJV scholars.
My point is, of course, that encountering and dealing with and engaging other styles and registers can often be helpful getting us to think in different directions from our usual, comfortable modes. I know a lot of folks avoid older texts for precisely this reason, but it may be more important than ever that we make the effort to deal with the archaic, if for no other reason than it may sensitize us to whence we came.