Experience, and History
William James, John Dewey, and Charles Beard shared a faith in the competency of thought to cope with the problems of ordering nature and society. In their view, human intelligence and its foremost achievement, the scientific method, had developed out of man's long struggle with nature and with himself for civilization. That man could know the process by which he and his civilization evolved and could conceive a pragmatic, experimental theory of progress was itself evidence of how successful that struggle had been. What remained was the consistent application of the pragmatic theory of progress to the larger problems of social life in the modern industrial world.
For the pragmatists, the comforting, formalistic certainties no longer availed, and James, Dewey, and Beard found it both necessary and sufficient to look to human experience for moral guidelines in the civilizing process. For them, the mind's primary function was the selective improvement of individual and social experience; the philosophy they constructed on this