Pragmatism - A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
The word pragmatism is used everywhere today, from business to sports to politics. Although the word hadn't yet entered everyday language when William James published "Pragmatism" in 1907, the philosopher believed its doctrine had virtually become common sense in twentieth-century America.
For James, pragmatism was a specific philosophical alternative to essentialism and foundationalism and argued that ideas are meaningful only insofar as they have practical consequences in concrete human experience; however today pragmatism has come to denote merely a general willingness to compromise principles, even to the point of selfishness or irresponsibility.
Written in an engaging and accessible style, "Pragmatism" is a valuable corrective to modern uses of the word, since the voice that speaks in its pages embodies precisely the opposite values from the pejorative semes the word has acquired.
- RSM, December 2015
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