The philosophy of meaning and truth especially associated with Peirce and James . Pragmatism is given various formulations by both writers, but the core is the belief that the meaning of a doctrine is the same as the practical effects of adopting it. Peirce interpreted a theoretical sentence as a confused form of thought whose meaning is only that of a corresponding practical maxim (telling us what to do in some circumstance). In James the position issues in a theory of truth, notoriously allowing that beliefs, including for example belief in God, are true if the belief ‘works satisfactorily in the widest sense of the word’. On James's view almost any belief might be respectable, and even true, provided it works (but working is not a simple matter for James). The apparently subjectivist consequences of this were wildly assailed by Russell, Moore, and others in the early years of the 20th century. This led to a division within pragmatism between those such as Dewey, whose humanistic conception of practice remains inspired by science, and the more idealistic route taken especially by the English writer F. C. S. Schiller (1864–1937), embracing the doctrine that our cognitive efforts and human needs actually transform the reality that we seek to describe. James often writes as if he sympathizes with this development. For instance, in The Meaning of Truth (1909), p. 189, he considers the hypothesis that other people have no minds (dramatized in the sexist idea of an ‘automatic sweetheart’ or female zombie) and remarks that the hypothesis would not work because it would not satisfy our (i.e. men's) egoistic cravings for the recognition and admiration of others. The implication that this is what makes it true that other persons (females) have minds is the disturbing part.
Peirce's own approach to truth is that it is what (suitable) processes of enquiry would tend to accept if pursued to an ideal limit. Modern pragmatists such as Rorty and in some writings Putnam have usually tried to dispense with an account of truth (see minimalism ), and concentrate, as perhaps James should have done, upon the nature of belief and its relations with human attitude, emotion, and need. The driving motivation of pragmatism is the idea that belief in the truth on the one hand must have a close connection with success in action on the other. One way of cementing the connection is found in the idea that natural selection must have adapted us to be cognitive creatures because beliefs have effects: they work. Pragmatism can be found in Kant's doctrine of the primacy of practical over pure reason, and continues to play an influential role in the theory of meaning and of truth. See also instrumentalism ; logical positivism ; Pascal's wager ; science, philosophy of ; will to believe.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pragmatism — pragmatism …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Pragmatism — • As a tendency in philosophy, signifies the insistence on usefulness or practical consequences as a test of truth. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Pragmatism     Pragmatism   …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • pragmatism — PRAGMATÍSM s.n. Curent filozofic idealist care, negând adevărul obiectiv, proclamă drept unic criteriu al adevărului numai ceea ce este util şi avantajos din punct de vedere practic. – fr. pragmatisme. Trimis de deka u, 05.08.2004. Sursa: DLRM … …   Dicționar Român

  • Pragmatism — Prag ma*tism, n. The quality or state of being pragmatic; in literature, the pragmatic, or philosophical, method. [1913 Webster] The narration of this apparently trifling circumstance belongs to the pragmatism of the history. A. Murphy. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pragmatism — I noun expedience, expediency, matter of factness, practical attitude, practicality, practicalness, rationality, realism, realistic attitude, realisticness, reasonableness, sensibility, sensibleness, sound thinking, unidealism, unsentimentality… …   Law dictionary

  • pragmatism — (n.) matter of fact treatment, 1825, from Gk. pragmat , stem of pragma (see PRAGMATIC (Cf. pragmatic)). As a philosophical doctrine, 1898, said to be from 1870s. Probably from Ger. Pragmatismus. As a political theory, from 1951. Related:… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pragmatism — ► NOUN 1) a pragmatic attitude or policy. 2) Philosophy an approach that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. DERIVATIVES pragmatist noun …   English terms dictionary

  • pragmatism — [prag′mə tiz΄əm] n. 1. the quality or condition of being pragmatic ☆ 2. a method or tendency in philosophy, started by C. S. Peirce and William James, which determines the meaning and truth of all concepts by their practical consequences… …   English World dictionary

  • Pragmatism — This article is about the philosophical movement. For other uses, see Pragmatism (disambiguation). Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from… …   Wikipedia

  • pragmatism — pragmatistic, adj. /prag meuh tiz euhm/, n. 1. character or conduct that emphasizes practicality. 2. a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion… …   Universalium

  • pragmatism —    A distinctly American philosophy, pragmatism emerged in Charles Peirce s development and defence of pragmatic efficacy as a criterion for discerning the meaning of words. According to Peirce, meaning can be found in the conceivable effects… …   Christian Philosophy

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.