Pragmatism | Study Guide

William James

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Pragmatism | Key Figure Analysis

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John Dewey

John Dewey is one of the three primary philosophers of the American pragmatist movement. He built on the ideas of William James and Charles Sanders Peirce and called his version of pragmatism "instrumentalism," which held that knowledge is created when people notice correlations when observing events. He believed ideas were instruments that could be used to understand the world.

Charles Sanders Peirce

William James is responsible for crediting Charles Sanders Peirce with coining the term pragmatism and coming up with the original idea used to found the movement. Peirce wrote widely on pragmatism, which he later called pragmaticism, to distinguish his evolving ideas from those of James. Peirce wrote an article in 1878, which contained the first explanation of pragmatism.

Giovanni Papini

Giovanni Papini is an Italian pragmatist who enthusiastically embraced the ideas of William James. Papini equated pragmatism with the will to action, fueled by creative power and passion. Papini was also a leader in the Italian art movement called futurism.

Ferdinand C.S. Schiller

Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller was an English philosopher who embraced pragmatism and became its most famous exponent in Europe. Schiller called himself a humanist, meaning that he saw the influence of humanity in all conceptions of reality and all knowledge. Schiller criticized the English idealists and saw the world as William James did, fluid and in flux.

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