Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 10/05/2013

Pragmatism is an american philosophy stating that "An idea is 'true' so long as to believe it is profitable to our lives".


Peirce's recipe for pragmatic thinking, which he called pragmatism and, later, pragmaticism, is recapitulated in several versions of the so-called pragmatic maxim. Here is one of his more emphatic reiterations of it:
Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.
In the 1909 Century Dictionary Supplement, the entry for pragmaticism, written, it now appears, by John Dewey, was:
Pragmaticism: A special and limited form of pragmatism, in which the pragmatism is restricted to the determining of the meaning of concepts by consideration of the experimental differences in the conduct of life which would conceivably result from the affirmation or denial of the meaning in question.
In 1905 Peirce coined the new name pragmaticism "for the precise purpose of expressing the original definition", saying that "all went happily" with James's and F.C.S. Schiller's variant uses of the old name "pragmatism" and that he coined the new name because of the old name's growing use in "literary journals, where it gets abused".

William James

William James extended pragmatism as a complete philosophy covering all aspects of life. He defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer.

"I am well aware how odd it must seem to some of you to hear me say that an idea is "true" so long as to believe it is profitable to our lives."
"The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief, and good, too, for definite, assignable reasons."
"The Will to Believe" is a lecture by William James, which defends, in certain cases, the adoption of a belief without prior evidence of its truth. In particular, James is concerned in this lecture about defending the rationality of religious faith even lacking sufficient evidence of religious truth. Therefore, this doctrine allows one to assume belief in God and prove His existence by what the belief brings to one's life.


Dewey's pragmatism was called instrumentalism, it is the view that a scientific theory is a useful instrument in understanding the world. A concept or theory should be evaluated by how effectively it explains and predicts phenomena, as opposed to how accurately it describes objective reality. But it is not realist in the sense that predictive success is accepted as a more important value than truthful and accurate descriptions. As a consequence of this stance, instrumentalists may often postulate knowingly false assumptions, so long as they are deemed to aid the predictive potency of (empirical) theories.

Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—as being major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by effective communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.

Dewey criticized the dichotomy between means and ends which he saw as responsible for the degradation of our everyday working lives and education, both conceived as merely a means to an end. He stressed the need for meaningful labor and a conception of education that viewed it not as a preparation for life but as life itself. Dewey continually argues that education and learning are social and interactive processes, and thus the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place. In addition, he believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning. Dewey makes a strong case for the importance of education not only as a place to gain content knowledge, but also as a place to learn how to live.In his eyes, the purpose of education should not revolve around the acquisition of a pre-determined set of skills, but rather the realization of one's full potential and the ability to use those skills for the greater good. He notes that "to prepare him for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities". Dewey advocated for an educational structure that strikes a balance between delivering knowledge while also taking into account the interests and experiences of the student.

The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these Thus the teacher becomes a partner in the learning process, guiding students to independently discover meaning within the subject area. This philosophy has become an increasingly popular idea within present-day teacher preparatory programs.


Schiller sought to undermine the very possibility of formal logic, by showing that words only had meaning when used in context. He discussed the truth of formal mathematics "1+1=2" and points out that this equation does not hold if one is discussing drops of water


Suppose you want to know whether Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492. You must not, as other people do, look it up in a book. You must first inquire what are the effects of this belief, and how they differ from the effects of believing that he sailed in 1491 or 1493. This is difficult enough, but it is still more difficult to weigh the effects from an ethical point of view. You may say that obviously 1492 has the best effects, since it gives you higher marks in examinations. But your competitors, who would surpass you if you said 1491 or 1493, may consider your success instead of theirs ethically regrettable. ~ Bertrand Russell

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