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Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking


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Lectures by William James, delivered at the Lowell Institute and at Columbia (1906–7), and published in 1907. The Meaning of Truth is a sequel.

Asserting the inadequacy of both rationalism and empiricism in “the present dilemma in philosophy,” James proposes pragmatism as “a mediating system.”A pragmatist … turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards powerJames applies pragmatism to such metaphysical problems as those of substance, personal identity, materialism, design, and “freewill.” He opposes the dogmatism of absolute monism and states his own pluralistic belief. Finally he discusses pragmatism in relation to religious questions, and contends that here too it mediates between extreme views.

A pragmatist … turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards power

Subjects: Literature.


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William James (1842—1910) American philosopher and psychologist


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