<philosophical school> Pragmatism is generally considered to be the only truly philosophical school and tradition to have emerged in America (mainly because it is more technically rigorous than transcendentalism). While the term itself was originated by C.S. Peirce, pragmatism's most famous exponents were William James and John Dewey, although there were numerous lesser figures involved during its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (G.H. Mead, F.S.C. Schiller, etc.). The original formulation of pragmatism by Peirce applied to epistemology (the idea that knowledge must be tested by its usefulness), but the concept was quickly extended by James. Pragmatism in ethics is a form of consequentialism, but it differs from utilitarianism in that pragmatism emphasizes action while utilitarianism emphasizes usefulness (Greek pragma = "action" while Latin utilis = "use"). Pragmatism is often said to be a kind of humanism, since it stresses the importance of meeting human needs and the real interests of human beings. Pragmatism rejects any kind of ethical naturalism and tends to be a kind of relativism. In popular usage, to say that a person is pragmatic may indicate that he or she lacks principles, although it can simply be a positive statement that he or she has a "can-do attitude" or "knows how to get things done". (References from altruism, consequentialism, empiricism, humanism, instrumentalism, realism, and }tilitarianism.) Recommended Reading: Pragmatism: A Reader, ed. by Louis Menand (Vintage, 1997); H. Standish Thayer, Meaning and Action: A Critical History of Pragmatism (Hackett, 1981); Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Farrar, Straus, &l Giroux, 2001); Howard Mounce, The Two Pragmatisms: From Peirce to Rorty (Routledge, 1997); Charlene Haddock Seigfried, Pragmatism and Feminism: Reweaving the Social Fabric (Chicago, 1996); Cornel West, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (Wisconsin, 1989); and Richard Shusterman, Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life (Routledge, 1997).
Based on [The Ism Book], [A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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