A critique of Pragmatism.
I would propose that finding utility in concepts does not seem to me to be at any point necessary along the path of philosophy in general, but it may be useful to philosophy.
The reason I think I am not a pragmatist, is because it seems like almost any casual suggestion that individuals should be "pragmatic" in one sense or another, is almost always a misrepresentation of pragmatism. I think there is a two-sidedness, a yin and yang, or essential philosophical complexity to pragmatism. Pragmatism is good for philosophers maybe. Usually people take pragmatism to mean being constructive, or productive to a certain discussion, or naively realistic though. I don't think it is that simple.
So what is pragmatism? Maybe philosophical pragmatism could be seen by some common maxims, that we can all recognize. Here is a quick and dirty conception, that could "transpose" considerations to being pragmatic.
Pragmatism as a philosophical tradition began in the United States around 1870. Charles Sanders Peirce, generally considered to be its founder, later described it in his pragmatic maxim:
Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.
One way to put what Peirce is wrote, is in how the “object” of your conception, could be seen in a way, as an implicit or mainly subjective presentation of a goal. An “object” is the object of the conceptual game you are playing. Object sometimes means an end to certain means.
I believe this is to say that pragmatism implies a reflection on the place of theory. In pragmatism, we can recognize that epistemological standards of an object (eg. the distinction of objects as abstract or concrete entities that can be confirmed in our experience) may be considered important to us, and this may be something we find closure and meaning in. But this epistemelogical consideration overlaps with our largely assumed (eg. “subjective”) means and ends.
I don't take it that a contentious area of philosophical speculation about the relation of subjects to objects, and the practical “necessity” of that relation in our considerations, is something that can be simply contested by a turn of phrase though. But we can convincingly enough consider what practical openness has always existed in our consideration of the presentations we have called objects.
Consider an analogy.
I would argue that the proto-phenomenologist Immanuel Kant was correct to recognize that modern humanity's realism was not just implied in the overall structure of epistemelogical conjecture, ie. of subjects and their relation to objects, and the way that between the two, we tend to question what we call subjective experience. This questioning of subjectivity is a more general affair that we necessarily have to consider.
We tend to think naively about this interrogation of subjectivity. Kant therefore was perhaps the first, and most clear to say that while subjects indeed need to be considered in their sense experience, in this, we relying on the fundamental place of conscious subjects. We rely subjectivity, as indicating the margins of our conjecture, and as them being in the muck of it, found int their experiences, to provide this provision of meaning to things.
This questioning occurs entirely in the provisions of subjective experience, and the presentations which a subject relates to. This is why Kant said we can only know the phenomenal presentations of space and time (that faculty of conception which belongs prior to experience, to a conscious subject), and not things in themselves. This is what we mean by an object – a certain kind of presentation to a subject of experience, ultimately. According to Kant, we have to always consider this, so long as we accept this subject-object framework as practical.
In questioning the conventionality of dictated objectivity, we can perhaps see that we have always dealt with a loosely articulated concept of objectivity. Kant called objects "phenomenological" presentations because they were always given to our experiences in the capacity as experience.
Pragmatism could be similarly considered as the looseness in our consideration of an object. Peirce suggests that there is an overlap between the importance in which modern humanity conceives knowledge, and a what may also be rather subjective criterion. Taken dialectically, it is somewhat ambiguous. For instance, this could be a radicalization, and amplified projection of our pursuit of knowledge into our essential means and ends, or it could on the other hand be considered a fundamental rejection of any such transcendental platonic project of science, or the goal to know nature "in itself".
I think that is how I see it, namely as either one. The overlap, is not clarified according to "things in themselves", as some transcendental goal of knowing nature, but primarily, the form of the means and ends of one's conception. Yet we look for the shared overlap in different conceptions or theories, in terms of consistency, and that could imply something like realism, that is pragmatic.
I realize this is a kind of threadbare conception, and I am just throwing this out there to try to form a general concept. What is pragmatism? What is its importance, or usefulness? How would you put it, and would you consider yourself a pragmatist?
Apologies for the pedagogical presentation. I'm not sure how open to discussion my posts are. Maybe somewhere along the line, I picked up a certain "pragmatic" approach to presenting ideas I am not aware of. I don't take things I say to be truthful, so much as engaged in this particular way, and even if they were essentially truthful, I would look for something closer to my truths maybe. The way I structure an argument is actually not how I live or think. I don't think I am a pragmatist, but I wonder if it is helpful to reflect on it. Anyway, cheers shroomerites. My proposal is at least this: Let's stop calling pragmatism realism. Pragmatism seems to be what is going on today, and in our world, and I think it is pretty surreal, or pretty irreal, something overlapping with the real, at most.
Pragmatism rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists consider thought an instrument or tool for prediction, problem solving and action. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes. The philosophy of pragmatism “emphasizes the practical application of ideas by acting on them to actually test them in human experiences”. Pragmatism focuses on a “changing universe rather than an unchanging one as the Idealists, Realists and Thomists had claimed”.