Category: Pragmatism

William James: The will to believe.

“The Will to Believe”  is a lecture William James gave to the Philosophical Clubs of Yale and Brown Universities. Published in the New World, June, 1896.  It defends, in certain cases, the adoption of a belief without prior evidence of its truth. James wants to defend the rationality of religious faith, even when sufficient evidence of religious truth is lacking. James argues that to some degree, the evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true, depends upon first adopting those beliefs without evidence. James argues, for instance, that it can be rational to have unsupported faith in one’s own ability to...

Charles Peirce: How to Make our Ideas Clear. 1878

Source: How to make our Ideas Clear (1878), from: Writings of Charles S Peirce, Volume 3, Indiana University Press. I am quoting sections 2,3, and 4. II The principles set forth in the first of these papers lead, at once, to a method of reaching a clearness of thought of a far higher grade than the “distinctness” of the logicians. We have there found that the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought. All these words, however, are too...

Pragmatism

Description of Pragmatism from the Stanford Encyclopedia: “Pragmatism was a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States around 1870. The most important of the ‘classical pragmatists’ were Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), William James (1842–1910) and John Dewey (1859–1952). The influence of pragmatism declined during the first two thirds of the twentieth century, but it has undergone a revival since the 1970s with philosophers being increasingly willing to use the writings and ideas of the classical pragmatists, and also a number of thinkers, such as Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom developing philosophical views that represent later stages of...

John Dewey: The Ego as Cause. 1894

This short article by Dewey was first published in Philosophical Review, 3, 337-341. Pretty much all libertarians nowadays insist that their doctrine of freedom of will is quite distinct from the older theory of indifferent choice. They suggest that their opponents are quite out of date in devoting their attention to the latter doctrine, which, under present conditions, is wholly a man of straw; they profess themselves quite as devoted adherents of the doctrine of causation as are the determinists, holding that the sole difference is as to the nature of the cause involved in volition.[1] Now, in one sense,...

William James: Does Consciousness Exist?

 First published in Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1, 477-491. 1904. ‘Thoughts’ and ‘things’ are names for two sorts of object, which common sense will always find contrasted and will always practically oppose to each other. Philosophy, reflecting on the contrast, has varied in the past in her explanations of it, and may be expected to vary in the future. At first, ‘spirit and matter,’ ‘soul and body,’ stood for a pair of equipollent substances quite on a par in weight and interest. But one day Kant undermined the soul and brought in the transcendental ego, and ever...