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William James claimed that his Pragmatism: a brand new identify for a few outdated methods of considering may turn out effective and epoch-making.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 effect? Is it a vital source for present difficulties and for all times and suggestion sooner or later? John J. Stuhr and the prestigious participants to this multidisciplinary quantity handle those questions, situating them in own, philosophical, political, American, and international contexts. attractive James in unique methods, those eleven essays probe and expand the importance of pragmatism as they concentrate on 4 significant, overlapping subject matters: pragmatism and American tradition; pragmatism as a mode of pondering and settling disagreements; pragmatism as thought of fact; and pragmatism as a temper, perspective, or temperament.

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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.

Robert Orrill (New York: College Board, 1997), pp. 69–110. 2. See for example Richard Rorty, “Dewey between Hegel and Darwin,” in Rorty, Truth and Progress, Philosophical Papers, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 290–306, an essay marked by Rorty’s characteristic civility and generosity; and cf. Stanley Fish, “Truth and Toilets: Pragmatism and the Practices of Life,” in The Revival of Pragmatism, pp. 418–434; and Fish, “Truth but No Consequences: Why Philosophy Doesn’t Matter,” Critical Inquiry 29 (2003): 389–417.

The counterculture thus contained the potential for renewing the crusades of progressive pragmatists focused on the ideal of egalitarian social justice, on the one hand, and the strikingly different emphasis of the catch phrase “if it feels good, James’s Pragmatism and American Culture, 1907–2007 • 21 do it,” on the other. 29 Neither the Freudian left drawn to Herbert Marcuse or Norman O. Brown nor the varieties of the Civil Rights movement drawn to Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X, thinkers who had little in common with each other, showed any evidence of having been shaped by James’s or Dewey’s pragmatism.

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