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 previous methods of considering could end up successful and epoch-making. this day, after greater than a hundred years, how is pragmatism to be understood? What has been its cultural and philosophical effect? Is it a vital source for present difficulties and for all times and concept sooner or later? John J. Stuhr and the celebrated participants to this multidisciplinary quantity handle those questions, situating them in own, philosophical, political, American, and international contexts. enticing James in unique methods, those eleven essays probe and expand the importance of pragmatism as they specialise in 4 significant, overlapping subject matters: pragmatism and American tradition; pragmatism as a mode of considering and settling disagreements; pragmatism as thought of fact; and pragmatism as a temper, angle, or temperament.

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As Kleinman puts it, “The passion-laden, practical self is caught up in what I have called our local moral worlds, what William James called genuine reality. ” Kleinman sees, as James did, that the search for answers involves the activity of living and choosing rather than merely the activity James’s Pragmatism and American Culture, 1907–2007 • 27 of contemplation or theorizing. 38 The fields in which pragmatism has had, and continues to have, the deepest impact are law and education, yet those are also among the fields in which the meaning of pragmatism has been most fiercely contested.

Moreover, strategies adopted according to these pragmatist principles must constantly be reevaluated to measure their continuing adequacy as circumstances change. ” Such public settings not only generated new ideas that could be discussed and evaluated, they also “forced reticent managers to face up to pressures for change,” thereby nudging those reluctant to adopt pragmatist strategies to see their value rather than dismissing them out of hand as challenges to their own authority. Pragmatist managers are resourceful improvisers, whom Nohria characterizes by invoking Claude Lévi-Strauss’s concept of the bricoleur, who reasons inductively from day-to-day experience and experiments creatively rather than attempting to apply abstract principles to concrete problems.

Dewey’s arguments for experimenting with radical democratic decision making filtered into some of the programs that took shape and many of the more ambitious plans that Congress refused to adopt during the 1930s and 1940s. The failure of FDR’s 1944 plan for a Second Bill of Rights, which would have committed the United States to policies of full employment, public housing, national health care, and other aspects of what has come to be known as “the welfare state,” is clear. The reasons for its failure are complex.

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