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Whither Pragmatism?

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Raymond Boisvert
Siena College
United States

This essay seeks to outline a new direction for Pragmatism in the 21st century. Gone is the old epistemological focus manifested in such formulations as “pragmatism is a method,” or “pragmatism is a theory of truth,” or a “theory of inquiry.” Instead the new emphasis is on ‘anthropological” Pragmatism as a mode of being in the world. The characterization of 21st century Pragmatism takes the form of components which allow for a Wittgenstein-like set of family resemblances. At the center is a slogan, solvitur ambulando, and a triad of themes: the primacy of praxis, the centrality of good, the partnership with democracy. “Thirdness,” reinterpreted, soaks through all these themes. Some important emphases and innovations: Pragmatism is a kind of Platonism; manipulanda must be distinguished from pragmata; the true is a sub-category of the good; knowledge is a sub-category of belief; thirds are, ultimately, anthropological; tragedy is inevitable.


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