Pragmatic Fashions: Pluralism, Democracy, Relativism, and the Absurd

Pragmatic Fashions: Pluralism, Democracy, Relativism, and the Absurd

Pragmatic Fashions: Pluralism, Democracy, Relativism, and the Absurd

Pragmatic Fashions: Pluralism, Democracy, Relativism, and the Absurd

Synopsis

John J. Stuhr, a leading voice in American philosophy, sets forth a view of pragmatism as a personal work of art or fashion. Stuhr develops his pragmatism by putting pluralism forward, setting aside absolutism and nihilism, opening new perspectives on democracy, and focusing on love. He creates a space for a philosophy that is liable to failure and that is experimental, pluralist, relativist, radically empirical, radically democratic, and absurd. Full color illustrations enhance this lyrical commitment to a new version of pragmatism.

Excerpt

There are many philosophies—many views about the nature of reality, truth, beauty, goodness, justice, and the meaning of life. Sometimes they are set forth in the specialized jargon of academic scholars and supposed systems of philosophy professors, and sometimes—far more often—they are expressed in the beliefs, actions, habits, and commitments of everyday lives. To most people, at least some of these very many philosophies seem to be curious and strange narratives—distant and unilluminating, surprising and hard to understand, and far harder still to adopt as a living vision of, or reflection for, one’s own life. in some places and at some times, only a small number of philosophies hold sway and in many large ways people think much like one another. in contrast, in some other places and at some other times, a great many different philosophies may be given expression all at the same time and people may think very differently from their neighbors or coworkers or fellow citizens. There are very many philosophies, different philosophies. There are very many lives, different lives.

In this book, I fashion and put to work one of these many philosophies. It is both expressivist—it views philosophies genealogically and as fashions of thought and personal expressions—and also pragmatic—it expresses a fallibilist, experimental, pluralist, relativist and radically empirical, and radically democratic, instrumental and practice-centered this-worldly sensibility. in keeping with an expressivist view of philosophy, this book is not an argument for a particular kind of pragmatism; rather, it is an expression and evocation of a pluralistic and pragmatic sensibility. It is an invitation and an opportunity to consider this expressivist attunement—an attunement that highlights the importance of multiple perspectives and awareness, the role of inventive imagination, and the need for shared cultural reconstruction.

I begin in chapter 1 by rejecting the idea that the many different philosophies of so many different times and places, of so many different individuals and cul-

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