Pragmatism

In the late 19th century the philosophy pragmatism emerged. The term was created by Charles Peirce. With pragmatism Peirce wanted to clarify thoughts. Pragmatism rejects the idea that thought is to represent or describe rather it states that thought is a tool for problem solving, action, and prediction. Pragmatism was ignored until William James interpreted it Peirce’s essay. James went on a different route with pragmatism than what Pierce intended it to explain, and even elaborated some aspects of it. Pierce wanted to make ordinary thought more scientific contrasted to James view on it. James saw pragmatism as a theory of meaning and truth. An example used for truth was steel is harder than flesh. As humans made of flesh we understand that statement as truth, and because of that information we behave different with steel than we would with balloons. Now if the opposite of that is true that causes a difference in behavior with steel. Another pragmatism use was for the truth in statements like steel is harder than flesh. Pragmatism theory of truth was one of three in western philosophy. James also justified moral and religious values even though if they can’t be justified with intellectual thinking. This was mainly because James was interested in religious experience rather than the religion itself. The most influential pragmatist was John Dewey. Dewey used pragmatism differently than what James did. Dewey used pragmatism in the context of social psychology. In evolution terms it is explained that intelligence is improved when habits (instincts) fail, so Dewey used this as a explanation to why we develop our intelligence as higher organisms. I liked Dewey’s view on many things, because he observed the world in scientific perspective. Dewey also saw the ultimate goal for action as a pragmatist is full development of an individual as a human being.

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