Pragmatism VS Commitment to the Absolute
When thinking about ancient Greek philosophy, several names such as William James and Hegel come to mind. Each of these philosophers had their own concept of what kind of philosophical methods they would produce. In this paper, I will discuss the idea behind William James’s “Pragmatism” and also the idea behind Hegel’s commitment to the Absolute.
Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that impractical ideas are to be rejected. Pragmatism, in William James' eyes, was that the truth of an idea needed to be tested to prove its validity. When William James published a series of lectures on ‘Pragmatism: A New Name for an Old way of Thinking’ in 1907, he began by “ identifying ‘The Present Dilemma in Philosophy’, a fundamental and apparently irresoluble clash between two ways of thinking about things which is the idea of pragmatism.
William James promised that pragmatism would show us the way to overcome this dilemma and, having thus shown us its importance, he proceeded, in the second lecture, to explain “‘What Pragmatism Means’” (Standford). James starts from a positivist viewpoint, that is, from experience, which for him is established by psychological facts. The psychological facts make “their appearance as an undifferentiated stream. In this stream the mind makes a distinction between subject and object, sensations and concepts. The concepts arise out of the necessity of organizing the confused facts of experience. Hence their value is not absolute but relative to their utility in practice, i.e., relative to their practical consequences (Pragmatism)”(Radical Academy). "The pragmatic method," says James, "tries to interpret each notion (concept) by tracing its respective practical consequences." The value of concepts whose...