Essays On Pragmatism

A 'corridor theory.' Pragmatism as a theory of truth, equivalent to 'humanism.' Earlier views of mathematical, logical, and natural truth. It forms a part of the philosophic atmosphere to-day.

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It suffices for our immediate purpose that tender-minded and tough-minded people, characterized as I have written them down, do both exist.

Pray postpone for a moment the question whether the two contrasted mixtures which I have written down are each inwardly coherent and self-consistent or not—I shall very soon have a good deal to say on that point.

Much futile controversy might have been avoided, I believe, if our critics had been willing to wait until we got our message fairly out. Either it is that Rocky Mountain tough of a Haeckel with his materialistic monism, his ether-god and his jest at your God as a 'gaseous vertebrate'; or it is Spencer treating the world's history as a redistribution of matter and motion solely, and bowing religion politely out at the front door:—she may indeed continue to exist, but she must never show her face inside the temple.

If my lectures interest any reader in the general subject, he will doubtless wish to read farther. In America, John Dewey's 'Studies in Logical Theory' are the foundation. For a hundred and fifty years past the progress of science has seemed to mean the enlargement of the material universe and the diminution of man's importance.

The pragmatic issue at stake in all these problems is what do the alternatives PROMISE. For every sort of permutation and combination is possible in human nature; and if I now proceed to define more fully what I have in mind when I speak of rationalists and empiricists, by adding to each of those titles some secondary qualifying characteristics, I beg you to regard my conduct as to a certain extent arbitrary.

The problem of 'free-will.' Its relations to 'accountability.' Free-will a cosmological theory. No one can live an hour without both facts and principles, so it is a difference rather of emphasis; yet it breeds antipathies of the most pungent character between those who lay the emphasis differently; and we shall find it extraordinarily convenient to express a certain contrast in men's ways of taking their universe, by talking of the 'empiricist' and of the 'rationalist' temper. More simple and massive than are usually the men of whom the terms are predicated.

Most of us have a hankering for the good things on both sides of the line. It is both one and many—let us adopt a sort of pluralistic monism.

Now, as I have already insisted, few of us are tender-foot Bostonians pure and simple, and few are typical Rocky Mountain toughs, in philosophy. The world is indubitably one if you look at it in one way, but as indubitably is it many, if you look at it in another.

Never were as many men of a decidedly empiricist proclivity in existence as there are at the present day.

And now I come to the first positively important point which I wish to make.


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