The Philosophy of Pragmatism
The study of pragmatism has recently received renewed interest. Many high-profile philosophers have written on the topic, including Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, Nicholas Rescher, Jurgen Habermas, and Susan Haack. Some think pragmatism is a valid philosophical system, while others don’t.
One of the earliest examples of pragmatism was the work of C. I. Lewis and Sidney Hook, both of whom were prominent pragmatists. Their work was influenced by the work of Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle. The pragmatists found that James and Dewey’s dicta had largely been overly vague, and the age of grand synoptic philosophizing was rapidly approaching.
This approach to linguistics involves using context to determine meaning. For example, “I have two sons” is not ambiguous. It implies that the speaker has two sons, which may be true. But if the speaker is asked, “Do you have more than two sons?”, the meaning is completely changed. The implication is that the speaker has two sons and no daughters.
A pragmatic approach to research places the focus on identifying and using the most appropriate method. It doesn’t place too much emphasis on arguments about which method is best. Pragmatic researchers generally acknowledge that all research methods have their pros and cons. In addition, they are open to trying various methods to determine the best answer.
Pragmatics has a long history, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was considered one of the three liberal arts and grew in prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries in France, Britain, and Germany. It is now a multidisciplinary discipline that crosses the natural and social sciences.
Pragmatics is the study of language used for various purposes, and is a fundamental foundation to effective communication. It considers not only the literal meaning of a sentence, but also the implicit meanings and possibilities of the sentence. This approach is important for understanding human language, and without it, there would be little understanding of what we mean.
The key ideas of pragmatism were developed during discussions in the Harvard Metaphysical Club in the 1870s. James and Peirce further developed these ideas in the 1880s, and eventually, they were formally defined by James in his 1898 public lectures. James also used the term as a term for their principles and methods.