What is Pragmatic Philosophy?
Pragmatic is the study of the way words are used in a language. This is a branch of philosophy and has influenced many disciplines including law, education, politics, sociology, and psychology.
Semantics and pragmatics share a common goal: to understand the meaning of a word or phrase, but semantics treats the word as a fixed symbol while pragmatics considers how the word is used in the context of an utterance. Similarly, syntax investigates how a sentence is used to convey information.
The pragmatist perspective is the opposite of the analytic viewpoint, which aims to describe how language works in the abstract. A pragmatist may be described as someone who is not too concerned with the abstract and is more interested in determining the practical consequences of a particular idea or proposition.
A pragmatist’s perspective is also different from the idealistic outlook, as a pragmatist may focus on the actual circumstances of a situation and make decisions that are based on those circumstances rather than relying on a theoretical approach. A pragmatist can also be called a pragmatic thinker or a pragmatic person.
Some pragmatists have also made the claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily and the meaning of the proposition lies in the practical consequences of the theory. This is the philosophical basis of pragmatism and is similar to that of rationalists who believe that ideas should be based on facts rather than ideals.
According to this view, a pragmatist’s perspective is a useful way of bringing clarity and resolution to long-standing metaphysical or epistemological disputes. In such cases, the down-to-earth pragmatist suggests that bickering metaphysicians should pose the question “What concrete practical difference would it make if my theory were true and its rival(s) false?”
Another way of bringing clarity to such disagreements is to point out the difference between semantic information and pragmatic information. A pragmatist will say that semantic information, such as the designation of proper names, indexicals, anaphoric and cataphoric pronouns, and deictic demonstratives, is encoded in what is uttered and that it is relevant to the hearer’s understanding of what the speaker is communicating.
Moreover, a pragmatist will note that the semantics of an utterance are influenced by extralinguistic information. This may include things like whether the speaker is in a foreign country, whether the utterance is a conversational or an instructional one, and whether it is being delivered to a large group of people or a small group of friends.
While pragmatism has been a source of controversy and confusion throughout its history, it has had some success in certain areas of academic research. In the field of psychology, for example, pragmatists have developed new ways of looking at issues such as the relationship between memory and the brain. They have also developed models of how human beings communicate effectively in social settings, and how people understand and act on their emotions.