Pragmatism

OF all the philosophies which today compete in the market place of ideas, Pragmatism alone can claim to be truly American in birth, outlook, and emphasis.1 And to these rightful claims could be added the fact that no other philosophy has influenced so greatly American opinion and behavior in every field of individual and collective effort: from law to education; from social policy to religion, politics and morality.

Despite the fact that the term, Pragmatism, does not refer to a single unified formal system of thought, it is possible to indicate certain specific conceptions which controlled the thinking of its three distinguished founders, Charles S. Peirce ( 1839-1914), William James ( 1842-1910) and John Dewey ( 1859-1952). The application of these conceptions in the specialized fields of philosophy constitutes the substance of the Pragmatic contribution to contemporary Western thought.

Human experience, human will, and human intelligence furnish the foundations upon which Pragmatism rests. Each pragmatic thinker, however, has felt free to define and apply these conceptions in his own way to the clarification and solution of particular problems2 while remaining a true exponent of this philosophy.

The United States at the end of the nineteenth century furnished a most propitious environment for the birth and develop

____________________
1
All three founders of Pragmatism openly acknowledged their intellectual indebtedness to certain European philosophers. James, for example, dedicated his volume, Pragmatism, to John Stuart Mill; Dewey paid tribute to Hegel in an autobiographical sketch, and Peirce indicated what Kant and Bain had taught him. The only outstanding foreign representative of a philosophy similar to that of Pragmatism, was the independent English thinker, F. C. S. Schiller, who called his philosophy, "Humanism."
2
Peirce preferred to elaborate the logical and metaphysical implications of the scientific method, which method he believed James had misinterpreted in behalf of an emphasis on the temperamental basis of all thinking, while Dewey chose to stress the social responsibility of the philosopher. For an excellent account of the important differences between, and relationships of, the founders of Pragmatism, see Max H. Fisch, Classic American Philosophers.

-162-

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American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Introduction - Orientation of Thought xi
  • Suggested Readings xviii
  • Part I - Fields and Problems of American Philosophy 1
  • The Philosophy of Science: The Problem of Factual Truth 3
  • Suggested Readings 19
  • Axiology: the Problem Of Human Values 21
  • Suggested Readings 33
  • Aesthetics: the Problem of Art And Beauty 34
  • Suggested Readings 47
  • Ethics: the Problem of Morality 49
  • Suggested Readings 63
  • Semantics: the Problem Of Meaning 64
  • Suggested Readings 82
  • Logic: the Problem of Reasoning 84
  • Suggested Readings 97
  • Metaphysics: the Problems Of Knowledge and Existence 98
  • Suggested Readings 113
  • Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Faith 114
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Part II - Sources and Choices of Philosophy 129
  • Transcendentalism 131
  • Suggested Readings 137
  • Idealism 138
  • Suggested Readings 146
  • Thomism 147
  • Suggested Readings 154
  • Personalism 155
  • Suggested Readings 161
  • Pragmatism 162
  • Suggested Readings 171
  • Humanism 172
  • Suggested Readings 182
  • Logical Positivism 183
  • Suggested Readings 191
  • Realism 193
  • Suggested Readings 202
  • Naturalism 203
  • Suggested Readings 210
  • Oriental Philosophy in America 211
  • Part III - American Thinkers 221
  • American Thought: A Chart 223
  • William Penn 227
  • Samuel Johnson 230
  • Jonathan Edwards 233
  • Benjamin Franklin 235
  • Thomas Paine 238
  • Thomas Jefferson 241
  • Benjamin Rush 244
  • William Ellery Channing 247
  • John Caldwell Calhoun 250
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 253
  • Abraham Lincoln 256
  • Henry David Thoreau 259
  • Walt Whitman 262
  • Robert Green Ingersoll 265
  • Charles Sanders Peirce 268
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 271
  • John Fiske 274
  • William James 277
  • Ambrose Bierce 280
  • Borden Parker Bowne 283
  • Josiah Royce 285
  • John Dewey 288
  • George Santayana 291
  • Morris Raphael Cohen 294
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt 297
  • Suggested Readings 300
  • Conclusion 303
  • Index 311
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