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11.08.04 - Pragmatic Method

11.08.04 - Pragmatic Method - difference in abstract truth...

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James on the Pragmatic Method Pragmatism, pp. 25 – 26 The pragmatic method is primarily a method of settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise might be interminable. [ such as: ] Is the world - one or many? - Fated or free? - Material or spiritual Here are notions either of which may or may not hold good of the world; and disputes over such notions are unending. The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by racing its respective practical consequences. What difference would it practically make to any one if this notion rather than that notion were true? If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically [ i.e., in terms of their practical consequences ] the same thing, and all dispute is idle. Whenever a dispute is serious, we ought to be able to show some practical difference that must follow from one side or the other’s being right. There can be no difference anywhere that doesn’t make a difference elsewhere – no
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Unformatted text preview: difference in abstract truth that doesn’t express itself in a difference in concrete fact and in conduct consequent upon that fact imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere and somewhen, The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me., at definite instants of out life, if this world-formula or that world-formula be the true one. PRAGMATISM AS AN ATTITUDE OF ORIENTATION The attitude of looking away from first things, principles, ‘categories,’ supposed necessities; and of looking towards last things, fruits consequences, facts. Pragmatism as a generic theory of what is meant by truth.-A new opinion counts as “true” just in proportion as it gratifies the individual’s desire to assimilate the novel in his experience to his beliefs in stock....
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