PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN PRAGMATISM GABRIEL GHERASIM

COURSE Benedek Szidonia

Observations: Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice to theory Practice is observed, then theory is extracted from practice and reapplied to practice Circular method Instrumentalism, radical empiricism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, fallibilism Revised pragmatism was used to criticize logical positivism Neopragmatism Neo-classical pragmatism Pragma: deed, act, to pass over, to achieve, to practice The Metaphysical Club, began in America Unique American philosophy Inquiry depends on doubt

it is necessary to naturalize values and ideas – to put them to work. with no validity in practice. In modern philosophy there are 3 main faculties of knowledge. They considered it to be highly speculative. He was considered the first modern philosopher. In other words. (pain for example) Our mind simply operates on our sensation. manifesting experience. To have the consciousness of humans allows experiencing the pain and understanding it in the same time with our brains. fiction. Americans thought that experiencing the pain and understanding it is one and the same act which happen simultaneously. These ideas have no value when approached abstractly – theoretically. Metaphysics – separation between the spiritual worlds and the world of experience stood at the basis of metaphysics. the world of teresttal action. we have in mind the American philosophical tradition at the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Descartes said that experiencing a physical contact is a part of how our body works and has nothing to do with our mind. The first thesis of his rejected was the thesis of the separation between faculties of knowledge. for instance the activity of our sensibility (a faculty of knowledge) is completely separate/distinct form the activity of reason or of our intellect. They considered that this separation is artificial. the imagination works through representations and reason works through concepts/ideas/thoughts. Americans rejected all this tradition in metaphysics/ the metaphysical tradition. American philosophers considered that we can have no genuine knowledge according to this division. There is no form without content – so they rejected the existence of the spiritual world SEPARATELY from the natural world. There are no distinctions between these. According to Descartes. Descartes didn’t genuinely think body was separated from the mind. the glorious … There are two main worlds. through which we can know something. American philosophers considered that the body and the mind are organically connected and cannot be separated.PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN PRAGMATISM GABRIEL GHERASIM COURSE Benedek Szidonia COURSE I 26th February General characteristics of classical American philosophy What are those conceptual trends and ideatic interests of American philosophers? When speaking about classical American philosophy. we can have no genuine knowledge about an object by separating our sensibility towards it from the intellect. what Plato called “the sensiblr eotld. Their essential meaning is exactly their role in experience. Characteristics of classical American philosophy before the birth of pragmatism: 1. The damnation of Renee Descartes (Renatus Carthesius in Latin. American philosophers considered that for a better understanding of what is spiritual. All the basic premises of Cartesian philosophy were rejected. The pragmatic movement in philosophy properly started in 1877 with a text written by Charles Peirce entitled “How to make our ideas clear?”. imagination and intellect/reason. This distinction between faculties was rejected. only theoretical. American philosophers discarded these distinctions. the world. . died in 164) – the American philosophy started by denouncing his philosophy. Another thesis rejected was his distinction between body and mind. What is spiritual should be manifested in nature. Sensibility works through our senses. sensibility. The naturalization of the spirit: in classical tradition. 2.

They considered that the most important role of our thought is that of changing the world not that of understanding it – of transforming reality. Kant) considered that nature is of a minor value for the mind. thought was important because it was the only way of understanding what happened through concepts/ideas. it has a poor rational significance (or spiritual significance).W. European philosophers considered that to know something is equivalent with knowing the past of that something. but our experiences are the very condition for a better understanding of ourselves. They questioned the meaning of the Platonic idea that forms are imprinted in our souls. Nature has a spiritual value and is not simply the domain of our experience. Americans rejected the idea that theories and concepts alone are sufficient for explaining the true meaning of our experience. American philosophers considered that language is central in experience. Instead they considered that what is true is a process – it BECOMES true. the meaning of our statements was established in terms of a correspondence between our ideas and facts. The focus on processes instead of substances: in European tradition our existence. Plotin. That is what for instance the transcendentalists contested (R.PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN PRAGMATISM GABRIEL GHERASIM COURSE Benedek Szidonia 3. The substitution of yesterday with tomorrow: in European tradition what was meaningful was related to accomplishments of the past. The mentalization of nature: European philosophy (Hegel. Example: Newton . They contested the idea that there are essential and eternal truths. Its role for our life is not minor as European philosophers considered. Augustine. Descartes. beauty or good. Instead of using substances. Emerson considered that nature is essentially spiritual. This was commonly the opinion of classical American philosophers. Science is no more a singular and contemplative accomplishment but a cooperative one : science was no longer conceived as a purely singular activity but a cooperative one. truth. what’s important is the accuracy of our ideas in confrontation with facts. American philosophers didn’t deny the role of the past. they thought that there was no way of verifying the presupposed correspondence between ideas and facts – so that language became contextual/essential in the way in which understand and communicate experiences or facts. the good. St. beauty – all of these are substances (something existing in and by itself). Namely. because beauty is implanted in our soul. what’s relevant is to see how for instance the idea of truth works in experience – how is it possible for something to become true. something is meaningful only if it is relevant for future experiences. God. Our soul is co-generated with the forms of truth. That’s why substances exist by themselves. 8. so that language was of a minor importance – it didn’t really matter how you said it or what language you say it in. but they put an accent on the role of the future. Emerson). Thought is not a substance. Plato. Thomas. because they considered ideas to be abstract. Nature is nothing else than the domain of our experiences. American philosophers considered that operating or using substances is irrelevant/of no use for our experience. They insisted on the process of something becoming true. This means the mentalization of nature – considering nature from a spiritual standpoint. 4. 7. The importance of language: in European tradition. but something revealing a certain goal/something oriented towards results: in European tradition. Aristotle. In other words. 5. 6. For instance (in Plato) a beautiful woman is the instantiation in reality of the abstract substance of beauty which lives independently in our soul – thus our souls have the capacity of recognizing something beautiful when seeing it.

Thus science is not the product of a single mind nor the prerogative. The simplistic mechanicism of the world according to Newton was no longer sufficient to explain the realities of our contemporary world. researchers. behavioral sciences. It is better to think about individuals as parts of communities. sciences that prove their results in experience. testing our theoretical assumptions according to a transparent methodology. His mechanics was a result of his solitary thinking upon what are the laws governing nature and our experience. Because they didn’t think that the human potentialities are the same. started to abandon the idea of the central importance of the individual and to stress upon the importance of communities of individuals. Men and women were conceived generically under the label. The primacy of method: our knowledge was founded.PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN PRAGMATISM GABRIEL GHERASIM COURSE Benedek Szidonia constructed his world according to his own rationality. Science is no longer speculative. following certain laws and axioms. Americans. no longer independent of the world. 10. So method is not only desirable. in the absence of a specified methodology of research there is no possibility of achieving theoretical results.a collaboration of scholars. starting in the 2nd half of the 19th century. According to Americans. they didn’t speak about distinct human habitudes. The substitution of the individual with the community: in the European tradition the center of our universe was the individual. The concept of the individual by itself cannot tell something relevant about the world we live in. according to the European tradition. 9. That’s why probably the most developed sciences and most popular ones are “applied sciences”. The meanings of our scientific results should be tested in order to get to their validation. Science can no longer be separated from society: science is not abstract. it cannot explain the mysteries of the world. That’s why science is or should be conceived as a cooperative investigation . Namely. but also necessary. 11. upon speculative theories/sets of concepts constructed by the mind. the progress of science and technology in late modernity makes it impossible for a solitary mind to conceive and to explain the entire experience. they spoke instead of how generically the human mind works. This assumption had a decisive role in the development of philosophy. etc. . Their question was: how do you achieve your results? That’s why they insisted on the role of experiments. etc. from a period of time to another. but applicative. According to Americans. so individuals should not be conceived isolated but living in communities. They are different from a culture to another.

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