Originated by American philosopher CharlesSandersPeirce
(1839-1914) his pragmatic principle
first published in "How to make our ideas clear" claimed that the content of a concept or hypothesis could be wholly clarified by specifying the experiencial consequences we would expect our actions to have if the hypothesis were true.
Pragmatism was further developed and popularized, primarily in American, by the work of WilliamJames
(1842-1910). James developed a metaphysics called RadicalEmpiricism?
which postulates that reflections be limited to experience. His metaphysics is empiricial because it regards conclusions about matters of fact as hypotheses modifable in the course of future experience, and it is radical in its non-reductive pluralism because finite limitations of the human condition ensure that no point of view be comprehensive. (gleaned from Blackwell's A Companion to Metaphysics 1995)
Pragmatism has been further developed by a whole series of philosophers (Dewey, Mead, Royce, C.I.Lewis,Quine,Rescher) up to the present and has recently undergone somewhat of a revivial due to the work of people like Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam. And outside the mainstream by the work of RobertPirsig
Any philosophy which accepts tenets based on usefulness. Often such philosophies beg the question of 'What is the definition of useful?' When combined with OccamsRazor
, the ScientificMethod
becomes a PhilosophyOfPragmatism
, with OccamsRazor
being the criterion by which usefulness is measured.
A 'philosophy of pragmatics' is also articulated by DeleuzeAndGuattari?
, who ask not 'is it correct', but instead, 'does it work'. This distinction is interesting to make because it establishes a generative relationship between whatever 'it' is intended to be (or become), and what 'it' is (or is becoming). Spatially, we identify a region, rather than a point. Perhaps as an example, the same distinction may be seen between the person writing tests first, and the person who just writes the code. When a UnitTest
is written, we ask whether a corresponding unit is working; whether our program is within some region of 'implementation space', defined by the set of implementations which satisfy the test. When we only write the unit, we can only ask whether it is correct. The suggestion is that because it is hard to know whether anything is correct, we must adopt a 'philosophy of pragmatics' and try to make something work instead. In making something work, we need not only Reason, but also Desire to lead our intentions, Imagination to name and answer the intentions, Will to realise our intentions, and Love to hold everything together. The greatest desire is Freedom. Pragmatics is much less boring than old, weary Usefulness! :) -- JohnBywater
Related Pages: TheMetaphysicsOfQuality