100 Years of Pragmatism: William James's Revolutionary by John J. Stuhr

By John J. Stuhr

William James claimed that his Pragmatism: a brand new identify for a few outdated methods of pondering could turn out victorious and epoch-making. this present day, after greater than a hundred years, how is pragmatism to be understood? What has been its cultural and philosophical influence? Is it a vital source for present difficulties and for all times and notion sooner or later? John J. Stuhr and the prestigious members to this multidisciplinary quantity tackle those questions, situating them in own, philosophical, political, American, and worldwide contexts. enticing James in unique methods, those eleven essays probe and expand the importance of pragmatism as they concentrate on 4 significant, overlapping topics: pragmatism and American tradition; pragmatism as a mode of considering and settling disagreements; pragmatism as conception of fact; and pragmatism as a temper, angle, or temperament.

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Walter Lippmann to Graham Wallas, July 31 and October 30, 1912, Walter Lippmann Papers, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University; Lippmann, A Preface to Politics (1913; rpt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962), p. 29. 11. Walter Lippmann, Drift and Mastery (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914), pp. 206–208, 274–75, 295, 329. 12. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1983), pp. ” 13. D. ” Historians have long doubted the existence of a unified, cohesive progressive movement, preferring instead to see progressivism as an era or, better yet, as a coalition of shifting groups with diverse and sometimes incompatible interests.

So, thinking in terms of the distinct groups comprising American culture, one could reason (as Kallen and Locke, if in somewhat different ways, both did) that the edges, the transitions, and the clinging together do the work. ” Whereas most early twentiethcentury American writers upheld a more or less static and vaguely Anglo-Protestant norm as the standard according to which all immigrant groups should be judged and toward which all Americans should aspire (the “melting pot” model), Kallen, Locke, and Du Bois all followed their mentor James in challenging that image.

Efforts to criticize the status quo on pragmatist grounds tend to be met with shrill responses from the extreme right and sometimes from the extreme left, neither of which shows much interest in the strategies recommended by pragmatists: the frank admission of uncertainty and the testing of hypotheses by trial and error. Modesty, tentativeness, and acknowledgment of the provisionality of all social policies have become endangered species in American politics. Those few politicians who have invoked the pragmatists explicitly, such as former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, and those reformers and writers who have stressed the need to revitalize civil society have been maligned as temporizers by critics on both ends of the political spectrum.

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