The Importance of Being Pragmatic
Pragmatic is a word used to describe a person who prioritizes practicality and efficiency over theoretical principles or ideals. It’s also a philosophical outlook that determines the meaning and truth of concepts by their real-world consequences.
The term pragmatic is often contrasted with idealistic, which is a philosophy that holds that one should aim for the best possible outcome in every situation. The truth is, however, that pragmatic and idealistic are not mutually exclusive in human existence. The most successful people are often able to find a balance between the two philosophies. They’re able to keep their ideals in mind while also remaining practical enough to achieve success.
People who have been told that they need to be more pragmatic are usually praised for their level-headedness and practicality. They are often encouraged to consider the most realistic options and courses of action before settling on any one specific solution. Of course, this doesn’t mean that pragmatists don’t have any ideals or that they are not passionate about the things they believe in. Rather, it’s just that they choose to put those ideals on the back burner while they focus on what can actually be accomplished in the real world.
There is no neat list of articles or essential tenets that a pragmatist adheres to. There are, however, a number of themes and ideas that have loomed large in the pragmatist tradition. For example, pragmatists have rejected the Cartesian notion of objectivity as the defining feature of reality and instead have insisted on the importance of experience and the real-world context in which a concept is applied.
In terms of language, pragmatism has been influential in the development of pragmatics, an area of study that examines how we use words in the context of dialogue and life. Pragmatics differs from semantics, syntax, and semiotics in that it takes into account the fact that a word’s meaning can be interpreted multiple ways. This theory of communication is known as conversational implicature and is based on the assumption that speakers will cooperate by giving each other clues to interpret what each other means when they don’t explicitly say it.
The pragmatist movement was triggered by a group of Harvard-educated men who met for informal philosophical discussions during the early 1870s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The members of the Metaphysical Club included proto-pragmatist Chauncey Wright, future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and two then-fledgling philosophers who would go on to become major pragmatists: Charles S. Peirce and William James. Although these men disagreed on many issues, they were united in their opposition to a Cartesian approach to philosophy that was viewed as a stale, dry and abstract exercise in intellectualism. They hoped to free philosophy from the optional assumptions that had generated insoluble problems. In doing so, they established a tradition that influenced subsequent thinkers. Today, pragmatism is a thriving philosophical school with followers all over the world. Despite its popularity, however, it has not yet achieved the status of a fully-fledged academic discipline like its rivals, such as continental philosophy and existentialism.