Taking a Look at Pragmatism and Its Philosophers

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Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey receive the lion’s share of the create developing the philosophical tradition called Pragmatism. The idea originated in the US during the 70’s, when C.S. Peirce developed a methodical way of inquiring and working through thought. Peirce’s ideas break away from traditionally accepted philosophy of the time, such as Descartes, and he creates Pragmatism. These three men, considered by many as the forefathers of Pragmatism, did not see eye to eye on all issues. The idea of truth, what constitutes a truth, and how do you differ between a truth and a falsehood shows up in all of the philosopher’s writings. While they agree in some areas, each man has a different understanding of what is true. Peirce views truth as something attainable by the scientific method. Peirce believes that truth is “opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate.”(1) James has multiple kinds of truth and does not settle with one meaning. Dewey believes that something is true when it meets your expectations and something is false when it undermines them. The oldest and most influential of the philosophers is S.C. Peirce, so I will go into his works first. The first work I will look at is “How to Make Ideas Clear.” In this essay, Peirce develops a method to bring clarity to ideas that would be hard to define in normal circumstances. Peirce opens up the work by rebutting ideas and definitions from traditional philosophy. Peirce ironically challenges “logicians” for forming definitions of clearness that lack clarity, and then claims the logicians definition distinctness only has a place “in philosophies that have long been extinct.” (1) Clearness has been an afterthought of Philosoph... ... middle of paper ... ...he same ideas and eventually the all come back with the same conclusion. This idea is the foundation for Peirce’s views on truth and reality. “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality. (1) His explanation of truth and reality is an interesting one. Peirce only begins to talk about the scientific method for obtaining truth towards the end of the essay, but speaks about his method for clarity throughout. Earlier in the essay, Peirce defines reality through his clarification method and now defines it through the scientific method. The two methods seemingly cannot co-exist because in the scientific method opinion defines what is real, while opinion is “senselss jargon” in the clearness method. (1) John Dewey
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