SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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The Practical Turn in Pragmatism: Intellectualism, Pluralism and Material Culture

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Responding to the controversy over whether pragmatists may be pluralists, I urge that the later Dewey's idea of a “cultural naturalism” urges a practical turn in pragmatism that balances the intellectualism of scientific naturalist approaches. This turn is spelled out in terms of a research program that looks for ways of dealing with cultural pluralism (and engaging with other concrete problems) in terms of activities rooted deeply in the practical sphere of human activity.

I argue that such a cultural naturalism must begin from Hickman’s Deweyan insight that “productive skills that are pre-scientific and those that are scientific exist along a continuum….” I explore this program in relation to material culture studies, which “emphasiz[e] the dialectical and recursive relationship between persons and things: that persons make and use things and that things make persons.” Labor, productive practices, art and craft take the place of scientific practices as objects of study.

Author(s):

Kevin S. Decker    
Eastern Washington University
United States

 

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