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Encyclopedia > Neopragmatism

Neopragmatism, sometimes called linguistic pragmatism is a recent (since the 1960s) philosophical term for philosophy that reintroduces many concepts from pragmatism. It has been associated with a variety of thinkers, among them Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, W.V.O. Quine, Donald Davidson, and Stanley Fish though none of these figures have called themselves "neopragmatists". Pragmatism is a philosophic school that originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce, who first stated the pragmatic maxim. ... Richard McKay Rorty (October 4, 1931 in New York City – June 8, 2007) was an American philosopher. ... Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is an American philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. ... W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ... Donald Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an American philosopher and the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Stanley Fish (born 1938) is a prominent American literary theorist and legal scholar. ...

Contents

Background

Neopragmatists, particularly Rorty and Putnam, draw on the ideas of Classical Pragmatists such as Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Putnam, in Words and Life (1994), enumerates the ideas in the Classical Pragmatist tradition, which newer pragmatists find most compelling. To paraphrase Putnam: Charles Sanders Peirce (IPA: /pɝs/), (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American polymath, physicist, and philosopher, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have been greatly influential in the United States and around the world. ...

  1. antiskepticism (the notion that doubt requires justification just as much as belief);
  2. fallibilism (the view that there are no metaphysical guarantees against the need to revise a belief);
  3. antidualism about "facts" and "values";
  4. that practice, properly construed, is primary in philosophy. (WL 152)

Fallibilism refers to the philosophical doctrine that absolute certainty about knowledge is impossible; or at least that all claims to knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. ...

Rorty Writings

In 1995 Rorty wrote: "I linguisticize as many pre-linguistic-turn philosophers as I can, in order to read them as prophets of the utopia in which all metaphysical problems have been dissolved, and religion and science have yielded their place to poetry."
Rorty and Pragmatism : The Philosopher Responds to His Critics, edited by Herman J. Saatkamp (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995).


This "linguistic turn" strategy aims to avoid what Rorty sees as the essentialisms ("truth," "reality," "experience") still extant in classical pragmatism. Rorty writes:


"Analytic philosophy, thanks to its concentration on language, was able to defend certain crucial pragmatist theses better than James and Dewey themselves. ...By focusing our attention on the relation between language and the rest of the world rather than between experience and nature, post-positivistic analytic philosophy was able to make a more radical break with the philosophical tradition."
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 21, no. 1 (Winter 1985). Analytic philosophy (sometimes, analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. ...


Three Basic Moves. Linguistic pragmatism revises pragmatism in three basic moves. First, one applauds pragmatists such as James and Dewey for repudiating a variety of methods and goals in traditional philosophy. Second, one renounces their attempts to reconstruct what should not be reconstructed. Finally, once one accepts the idea that only language is available to furnish philosophy's materiel. This step complete, one can create freely, even poetically, serve whatever ends seem best.


Many people are now writing about "neopragmatism" and so we can expect that definitions will proliferate.


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See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
'SUUNYATAA, TEXTUALISM, AND INCOMMENSURABILITY (4374 words)
In short, neopragmatism, in the manner in which I am using the term, trades the sense of objectivity grounded on transcendent principles and standards such as Plato's Good, Aristotle's Being, or Kant's categories and instead insists on an evolutionary objectivity grounded on the changing structures regulating historically situated human practices.
For if neopragmatism consists primarily in the rejection of absolutes, and hence absolute standards of truth and knowledge, while we may not be able to embrace the absolute truth of no truth, we still have no firm account of what warrants the claim of objectivity in any particular case.
Neopragmatism is a concern for embedded human truths.
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