B I B L I O T H E C A A U G U S T A N A
1842 - 1910
- P r a g m a t i s m ,
A N e w N a m e f o r S o m e
O l d W a y s o f T h i n k i n g
1 9 0 7
Lecture I. The Present Dilemma in Philosophy
Chesterton quoted. Everyone has a philosophy. Temperament is a factor in all
philosophizing. Rationalists and empiricists. The tender-minded and the tough-minded. Most
men wish both facts and religion. Empiricism gives facts without religion. Rationalism
gives religion without facts. The layman's dilemma. The unreality in rationalistic
systems. Leibnitz on the damned, as an example. M. I. Swift on the optimism of idealists.
Pragmatism as a mediating system. An objection. Reply: philosophies have characters like
men, and are liable to as summary judgments. Spencer as an example.
Lecture II. What Pragmatism Means
The squirrel. Pragmatism as a method. History of the method. Its character and
affinities. How it contrasts with rationalism and intellectualism. A 'corridor theory'!
Pragmatism as a theory of truth, equivalent to 'humanism'. Earlier views of mathematical,
logical, and natural truth. More recent views. Schiller's and Dewey's 'instrumental' view.
The formation of new beliefs. Older truth always has to be kept account of. Older truth
arose similarly. The 'humanistic' doctrine. Rationalistic criticisms of it. Pragmatism as
mediator between empiricism and religion. Barrenness of transcendental idealism. How far
the concept of the Absolute must be called true. The true is the good in the way of belief
The clash of truths. Pragmatism unstiffens discussion.
Lecture III. Some Metaphysical Problems Pragmatically Considered
The problem of substance. The Eucharist. Berkeley's pragmatic treatment of material
substance. Locke's of personal identity. The problem of materialism. Rationalistic
treatment of it. Pragmatic treatment. 'God' is no better than 'Matter' as a principle,
unless he promise more. Pragmatic comparison of the two principles. The problem of design.
'Design' per se is barren. The question is what design. The problem of
'free-will'. Its relations to 'accountability'. Freewill a cosmological theory. The
pragmatic issue at stake in all these problems is what do the alternatives promise.
Lecture IV. The One and the Many
Total reflection. Philosophy seeks not only unity, but totality. Rationalistic feeling
about unity. Pragmatically considered, the world is one in many ways. One time and space.
One subject of discourse. Its parts interact. Its oneness and manyness are co-ordinate.
Question of one origin. Generic oneness. One purpose. One story. One knower. Value of
pragmatic method. Absolute monism. Vivekananda. Various types of union discussed.
Conclusion: We must oppose monistic dogmatism and follow empirical findings.
Lecture V. Pragmatism and Common Sense
Noetic pluralism. How our knowledge grows. Earlier ways of thinking remain. Prehistoric
ancestors discovered the common sense concepts. List of them. They came
gradually into use. Space and time. 'Things'. Kinds. 'Cause' and 'law'. Common sense
one stage in mental evolution, due to geniuses. The 'critical' stages: 1)
scientific and 2) philosophic, compared with common sense. Impossible to say
which is the more 'true'.
Lecture VI. Pragmatism's Conception of Truth
The polemic situation. What does agreement with reality mean? It means
verifiability. Verifiability means ability to guide us prosperously through experience -
Completed verifications seldom needful. 'Eternal' truths. Consistency, with language,
with previous truths. Rationalist objections. Truth is a good, like health, wealth, etc.
It is expedient thinking. The past. Truth grows. Rationalist objections. Reply to
Lecture VII. Pragmatism and Humanism
The notion of the Truth. Schiller on 'Humanism'. Three sorts of
reality of which any new truth must take account. To 'take account' is ambiguous.
Absolutely independent reality is hard to find. The human contribution is ubiquitous and
builds out the given. Essence of pragmatism's contrast with rationalism. Rationalism
affirms a transempirical world. Motives for this. Tough-mindedness rejects them.
A genuine alternative. Pragmatism mediates.
Lecture VIII. Pragmatism and Religion
Utility of the Absolute. Whitman's poem 'To You'. Two ways of taking it. My friend's letter.
Necessities versus possibilities. 'Possibility' defined. Three views of the
world's salvation. Pragmatism is melioristic. We may create reality. Why should
anything be. Supposed choice before creation. The healthy and the morbid reply.
The 'tender' and the 'tough' types of religion. Pragmatism mediates.
- Text from the Authorama site
prepared by Philipp Lenssen
with some corrections
(there is another version of the
text in The Mead Project >>>)