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ByW. B. GAlLI!!

IT will be useful to expiain at the outset the relation of this paper to Professor Ktlrner's admirable Presidential Address to the Society last year. Komer's aim there was to set ont the assump' tion. of practical thinking, i.e., tbinkingwhich seeks to ensure successful interferences with the ordinary Course of nature as understood hy science. He presented these a<Sumption ...... logical, epistemological and valualional-M additional to onr empirical beliefs, which, he affirmed, form part of, and are;" thi~ sense logically necessary or prior to, our practical thinking. And from thi'Ktlrner might seem to havel:ieen maintainiogthat at least some of our empirical bolief,eouldelristindependently (lfanyparticular act of practical thinkiug,orthattheC(lnccptof empiricalbeliefis\ogicaIlyindependentoftheconceptofpractical thinking. Whether Kilmer intended this consequence to be drawn from his dhcu"ionI do not know. Butifso,hisposition strikingiyconfronl8anotherwbichmaintainsthatcertain(suitably selected) practices or exercises of practical thinking are 10gicaIly necessary or prior to every act of empirical and theoretical thinking, and hence to an immense number of our empirical belief', This latler pooilion, which I shall refer to in what follows RS ' the praclicalist thesis',is,I beliew, Ihe most valuable clement in Pcagmatism, "'pecially Ihat ofPdrC<l and of Dewey; hut fIOtt1ething ratber like it had l:ieen adumbrated earlier byVico and bytheyoungMarx,andsomelbing ,urprisinglylike it seems to me to be snggcsted, although in more sophisticated ways,by certain dicta of both Wittgensteinand Ryle. It is with tbi, 'practicalis! thesis' that I shall be here primarily concerned. But I shall not try to ,ettle--foral1 that ilmight prove to be,orbe made to be, a most intere,ting que.tion-whether the practicalist

thinking and hence for many of our theoretical andempirica1 beliefs. But adherents of the practicalistthesis appear to assume that the familiardistinctioil between rn"orY"l<ud practice, thought and action, considering and doing, is dear and simple and sufficient to remind us of all we need when we appeal to the idea of practice in philosophical argument. That·tlle idea ofpl'a~tice might l>eitselfredically ambiguous seems never to have occurred to them.

Of course in this paper I cannot hope either to substnntiate these chnrges in extenso or to do more than to suggest how, in mybelief,the ambiguities of theicieaofpracticeand the surprising weaknesses or successjve versions of the practicalist the.<;is are to be explained. In Section HI set out what Seem to me to be three especially important ambiguities in the idea of practice. as we find it u,ed in the practicali,t tbesis. ButIamfarfromcertain whether lhis diagnosis goes to the root oflbe malter. InSection III I offer a highly compressed,indceci schematized acrount of how, as it seems 10 me, Peirce, Wittgenstein and Ryle come 10 offer us IheiT various uo&atisfactory versions or sketches of the practicalistthesis. In SectionlVI offer some hereticai remarks about one way in which, perhaps, the inadequacies oftbese versions might be overcome aod the more importantambiguitie, in the idea of practice might be, ifnot excised,atieastrendered philosophically harmless.

To distinguish all the ambiguities of the word 'practice' (and ofitseqnivalents and derivatives in current English) would beanimpossiblycompleJIandforthemostpartphilosophicaUy unrewardinglask. To take an outstanding instance: 'practice' may stand either for the exercise of certain capacities with a view to improving one's proficiency with respect to thern. or for theelffifcise ofthe,e capacities on the assumption that one has already reached a required standaro of proficiency. But from schoolday, onwards we have all learnt to cope with this ambiguity withontthinking, and to avoid without effort the contradictions and confusions to which it might conceivably give rise. The


Peiroe, Wittgenstein and RyJedeveloptbeirrespoctivever.ion. ofthepratticalistthesisintermsofdoingandhabit,andofrealo, imaginary experimentation (Peirce), of speech and language conceived as techniques or institutions (Wiltgenstein), and of in contrast with knowing·that (Ryle); and their respective appeals to the idea of practite are based upon closely

areas, or may well beresurrectcd to meet with surprising new contingencies. For the identification ofpersistentintemal con-fli"IS of this sort;in-anyofour keywn0:pt,;"an" adequate lnowledge of their history seems to me essential. Innootherwayshort of a God-like survey of aU possibly relevant ambiguities nnd confu,;ons=uid"we"ooroc"toappreclat.",,,,,,,tlywha}differenresin emphasis arui interpretation continue to cheat u, of consistency and agreement, and, no doubt also, continue to quicken our demandforfurtberphilosophicalinslght