Definition of Pragmatism
The word is derived from “Prigma” means action. A belief of the teaching of philosophy, which originated in USA in 19th century. Pragmatism calls for ideas and theories to be tested in practice, by assessing whether acting upon the idea or theory produces desirable or undesirable results.
Pragmatism is characterized by the insistence on consequences, utility and practicality as vital components of meaning and truth. Pragmatism objects to the view that human concepts and intellect represent reality, pragmatism holds that it is only in the struggle of intelligent organisms with the surrounding environment that theories acquire significance, and only with a theory's success in this struggle that it becomes true.
Major Assertion Pragmatism
l Reality is dynamic Ever changing.
l Man has biological and social nature with moral implications.
l Mind is the rsult of man’s interaction with social environment
l Knowledge is dynamic
l Values are dynamic.
Pragmatism in Education
l The aim is more education
l Harmonious development
l Continuous reconstruction of experiences
l Social efficiency
l Continuous growth
l Personal and Social Adjustment
Charles Sanders Peirce first used the word pragmatism to designate a principle put forward by him as a rule for guiding the scientist and the mathematician. The principle is that the meaning of any conception in the mind is the practical effect it will have in action. The rule remained unnoticed for twenty years, until Professor William James took it up in the address he delivered at the University of California in 1898.
Pragmatism becomes American philosophy from the early 20th century. According to Pragmatism, the truth or meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences rather than anything metaphysical. It can be summarized by the phrase “whatever works, is likely true.” Because reality changes, “whatever works” will also change — thus, truth must also be changeable and no one can claim to possess any final or ultimate truth.
Pragmatism, as a tendency in philosophy, signifies the insistence on usefulness or practical consequences as a test of truth. In its negative phase, it opposes what it styles the formalism or rationalism of Intellectualistic philosophy. That is, it objects to the view that concepts, judgments, and reasoning processes are representative of reality and the processes of reality. It considers them to be merely symbols, hypotheses and schemata devised by man to facilitate or render possible the use, or experience, of reality. This use, or experience, is the true test of real existence. In its positive phase, therefore, Pragmatism sets up as the standard of truth some non-rational test, such as action, satisfaction of needs, realization in conduct, the possibility of being lived, and judge’s reality by this norm to the exclusion of all others.
Pragmatism short-circuited many of the age-old tensions in philosophy:
· Between subject and object
· Between logical validity and moral quality
· between thought and judgment
Pragmatism disarmed heavy debate with an evolutionary perspective: thoughts which improve one’s situation (and societies) are “good”. Those that do not are “bad”.
Pragmatism implies that knowledge creation is an essentially human endeavor.
There are no “deeper truths” to be discovered, beyond what people believe that serves them well.
At the same time, religious truth is as valid as scientific truth. Both are social constructions with social merit.
Pragmatism in action
Pragmatism is an applied philosophy. Its validity derives from its social impact – which would be nothing except through its application.
· Psychology through the work of James,
· Education via John Dewey,
· Law through the work of O.W. Holmes
· Mathematics and Logic via Pierce
John Dewey on Pragmatism :(1859-1952)
In a philosophy he called Instrumentalism, John Dewey attempted to combine both Perice’s and James’ philosophies of Pragmatism. It was thus both about logical concepts as well as ethical analysis. Instrumentalism describes Dewey’s ideas the conditions under which reasoning and inquiry occurs. On the one hand it should be controlled by logical constraints; on the other hand it is directed at producing goods and valued satisfactions.
John Dewey was a leading proponent of the American school of thought known as "pragmatism," a view that rejected the dualistic epistemology and metaphysics of modern philosophy in favor of a naturalistic approach that viewed knowledge as arising from an active adaptation of the human organism to its environment. On this view, inquiry should not be understood as consisting of a mind passively observing the world and drawing from this ideas that if true correspond to reality, but rather as a process which initiates with a check or obstacle to successful human action, proceeds to active manipulation of the environment to test hypotheses, and issues in a re-adaptation of organism to environment that allows once again for human action to proceed. With this view as his starting point, Dewey developed a broad body of work encompassing virtually all of the main areas of philosophical concern in his day. He also wrote extensively on social issues in such popular publications as the New Republic, thereby gaining a reputation as a leading social commentator of his time.
John Dewey on Pragmatism :(1859-1952)
John Dewey's (1859–1952) life spanned nearly a full century, and his written work reflects a corresponding breadth of influences and interests. Dewey brought pragmatism to maturity by focusing on the pragmatic method of inquiry as an ever-ongoing, self-correcting, and social process. Dewey used the scientific method as a paradigm of controlled and reflective inquiry, and referred, in various works, to his version of pragmatism as "instrumentalism" and "experimentalism." Dewey combined Peirce's community-sense of inquiry with the affective elements of James's work. As a result, Dewey's version of pragmatism deemphasized knowledge and belief as the sole ends of inquiry, and instead sought to combine intelligent reflection with intelligent action.
Darwin's evolutionary thought had a profound impact on Dewey's contributions to pragmatism. Dewey's instrumentalism is a theory of the process of the transformation of an inchoate, problematic situation into a coherent unified one where knowledge is the product of inquiry and the means, or instrument, by which further inquiries may be made. Dewey's fallibilism, inherited from Peirce, holds that no belief, view, or claim to knowledge is immune to possible future revision. Whereas Peirce's fallibilism emphasized the reversibility of scientific theories, Dewey sought to advocate the ways in which ongoing communication among diverse persons and experiences may inform and refine each other. Knowledge, for Dewey, was the product of inquiry, built out of the raw materials of experience. Knowledge, or "warranted assert ability," is not a private
Extreme type of utilitarianism(judging of activities in terms of human experiences and relating them to human purpose).
Opposition of higher and spiritual values
Negation of fixed aims of education
Humanities and cultural activities find no place in the pragmatic scheme of education.
It is anti-intellectual. The main area concern for pragmatist is the market place of daily life.
No faith in internal truth( truth is seen as constantly being changed and tested rather than a stable body of know;edge)
It is theoretical rather than practical.