American Pragmatists: Selected Writings

American Pragmatists: Selected Writings

American Pragmatists: Selected Writings

American Pragmatists: Selected Writings

Excerpt

The word "pragmatism" is a misnomer--because it is a noun. The pragmatists as a group are not adherents to a doctrine but proponents of a method. As the contents of this book show, it is a "corridor theory": people have come to it with widely disparate backgrounds, and because of the diversity of their interests, they have interpreted and applied the theory in many different ways.

It would not be possible, therefore, to compile a fully representative selection from their writings within the limits of this volume. Other equally valid anthologies could easily be made. Our greatest difficulty--as is so often the case in editing books of this sort--has not been answering the question, What shall we include? but rather, How can we omit?

Since pragmatism is indigenous and has its roots in earlier phases of our intellectual history, we have begun with Emerson. Peirce, James, and Dewey were reared in the atmosphere of transcendentalism, and transcendentalists they remained at the core. But pragmatism has an equally strong affiliation with the American enlightenment, in particular with Jefferson, whose thought best represented the America Turgot called "the hope of the world." Perhaps most striking is the omission --though he is not an American--of F. C. S. Schiller. And though obviously necessary, it was difficult to pass over many . . .

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