Radical Pragmatism: An Alternative


Robert Roth, among the first few Catholics to write favorably, even if critically, about American pragmatism, presents here a creative piece of comparative philosophy in which he achieves a long-term goal of attempting a reconciliation between pragmatism and a classical spiritual and religious perspective. The title, Radical Pragmatism, is an adaptation of William James's "radical empiricism". James had argued that the classical empiricists, Locke and Hume, did not go far enough in their account of experience. They missed some of its most important aspects, namely, connections and relations, and as a result they were left with discrete sense data and sense objects.

In a similar vein, Roth maintains that the pragmatists themselves have not been radical enough in developing the full implications of their own tradition. In chapters on Peirce, James, and Dewey, Roth makes the Fast full-scale attempt to show that the pragmatic notion of experience can be extended to include a classical spiritual andreligious perspective in a theory of knowledge, morality, God, religion, and person.

Radical Pragmatism also discuses the thought of the Jesuit priest and anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, showing how Teilhard from an evolutionary standpoint addressed the problem, long considered by the pragmatists, of bringing religion and science into harmony. Teilhard's thesis, as espoused by Roth, is that one can be deeply religious in a traditional sense and still take seriously the importance of science and life in the world; thus giving rise to a more fully developed person.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1998


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