PRAGMATISM: Meaning and Basic Principles- with pdf
Meaning of Pragmatism
“Pragmatism is essentially a humanistic philosophy, maintaining that man creates his own values in course of activity, that reality is still in making and awaits its party of complexion from the future.” There are two things important in the process of learning. One is thought and the other is action. Pragmatism gave more importance to action than thoughts. Less thinking and more doing is the ideal of pragmatism. We can also call pragmatism as instrumentalism or experimentalism because it acts for the practical significance of thought. In other words we can say that pragmatism stress on the result obtained through the experiments.
Definitions of Pragmatism
Following are the various definitions of Pragmatism-
According to William James, “Pragmatism is a temper of mind and an attitude. It is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth and finally it is a theory about reality.”
According to James Tratte, “Pragmatism offers us a theory of meaning, a theory of truth, a theory of knowledge and a theory of reality.”
According to Reid, “Pragmatism makes activity, engagement, commitment and encounters its central theme.”
According to Rusk, “Pragmatism is merely a stage in the development of a new idealism that will do full justice to reality, reconcile the practical and spiritual values and result as a culture which is the flower of efficiency and not the negation of it.”
Basic Principles of Pragmatism
Following are the basic principles of Pragmatism-
- Pragmatism as humanism- Pragmatism is based on the concept of human values. So pragmatists are regarded as humanists. They believed that sciences should be utilized for social welfare and solution of human problems. It further locates and identifies values in the human experience. It is therefore, called humanism.
- Subordinate to action- Pragmatism gives supreme position to action. For an ideal to be meaningful, it must be put into practice. The consequences which follow constitute the meaning of the idea. It also determines the values of that idea.
- Changing nature of eternal values- Pragmatism does not believe in the ultimate or absolute values of life. This school of philosophy believes that values emerge only in the individual social flow of events. These values are obtained in society. They are ever in a state of flux.
- Faith in Experimentation- Pragmatism is also experimentation. It advocates experimental method of science. It has a deep faith in experimentation. Nothing is good or bad before it is tested by experiment. So, pragmatism recommends the good and beauty of a thing only after the thing is tested by experiment because man is always carrying out experiments in his life.
- Faith in Democratic and Social Values- Pragmatism shows its firm and deep faith in democratic and social values. Pragmatists are fundamentally democratic because democratic society is the best means of achieving humanitarian ideals. They are fully believed that only through democratic ideals; an individual can fulfill his purposes and can achieve efficiency in his efforts.
- Pragmatism as Instrumentalism- Ideas are the only tools and instruments. There are the means to gain practical knowledge. It believes that a thinker is a manipulator and not a beholder. Ideas or thought enlarge their scopes by testing themselves on practical issues.
- Pragmatism as the Theory of Education- According to pragmatism, philosophy emerges out of educational practices. John Dewey says that philosophy is the theory of education in its most general phase. The growth of personality is the product of action and discovery. Only those theories are true only when that is workable. Philosophy should be practicable and useful in influencing the conduct of life and not a passive enquiry or contemplation.
- Faith in Flexibility- Pragmatism believes that nothing is fixed and final in the world. Our life is ever changing and self-renewing process because change is the nature. The world is always in the state of change and flux. Values are also changed with the change of time and place.
- Emphasis on the Principle of Utility- Pragmatism is a utilitarian ideology which holds that the reality of a principle lies in its utility. Any idea or thing which is useful to us is proper and right. In case it is of no use, it is improper, wrong and untrue. In other words, only those ideas and things are true which have utility for man. In the words of William James- “It is true because it is useful.”
- Importance of Man Power- Pragmatism attaches great importance to the power of man. By virtue of this power, a man can create an environment useful, beneficial and conductive to his own development and welfare of society.
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