Professional Realism, 1912–1956

Bruce Kuklick

in A History of Philosophy in America

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780199260164
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597893 | DOI:
 Professional Realism, 1912–1956

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Of equal importance as the development of pragmatism and instrumentalism, although more narrowly and professionally focused, was the development of realism, a view that argued for the independent existence of the material world in space and time. This movement began in the first decade of the twentieth century led by Harvard's neo‐realist, Ralph Perry. It continued with the more significant Critical Realists of the second decade of the century—George Santayana, Arthur Lovejoy, and Roy Wood Sellars. C.I. Lewis, the most important inter‐war philosopher and another Harvard professor, known for his conceptual pragmatism, also embraced realistic ideas. In the second half of the century, Wilfrid Sellars influentially defended this point of view.

Keywords: conceptual pragmatism; critical realism; Harvard; instrumentalism; C. I. Lewis; Arthur Lovejoy; neo‐realism; Ralph Perry; pragmatism; realism; George Santayana; Wilfrid Sellars; Roy Wood Sellars

Chapter.  10472 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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