The word "pragmatism" is used everywhere today, from business to sports to politics. Although the word hadn't yet entered everyday language when William James published Pragmatism
in 1907, the philosopher believed its doctrine had virtually become common sense in twentieth-century America. For James, pragmatism was a specific philosophical alternative to essentialism and foundationalism and argued that ideas are meaningful only insofar as they have practical consequences in concrete human experience; however today pragmatism has come to denote merely a general willingness to compromise principles, even to the point of selfishness or irresponsibility. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Pragmatism
is a valuable corrective to modern uses of the word, since the voice that speaks in its pages embodies precisely the opposite values from the pejorative senses the word has acquired.
About the Author:
William James may well have been born into the nineteenth century's most interesting family. His father, Henry, was the wayward son of successful Irish immigrants in New York State. William James, born in 1842, was the first in a remarkable series of children that included famous novelist Henry, Jr. In 1875 William James began teaching at Harvard, where he established the first ever psychology laboratory and in 1890 he practically invented the modern discipline of psychology in his two-volume Principles of Psychology. Shortly after this, he discovered the philosophy of Charles Renouvier and responded to his ideas about belief in a series of lectures and articles that culminated in the publication of Pragmatism in 1907.
About William James
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Published August 20, 2012
by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
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