1st Edition

Introducing Pragmatism A Tool for Rethinking Philosophy

By Cornelis de Waal Copyright 2022
    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    This unique introduction fully engages and clearly explains pragmatism, an approach to knowledge and philosophy that rejects outmoded conceptions of objectivity while avoiding relativism and subjectivism. It follows pragmatism’s focus on the process of inquiry rather than on abstract justifications meant to appease the skeptic. According to pragmatists, getting to know the world is a creative human enterprise, wherein we fashion our concepts in terms of how they affect us practically, including in future inquiry. This book fully illuminates that enterprise and the resulting radical rethinking of basic philosophical conceptions like truth, reality, and reason.

    Author Cornelis de Waal helps the reader recognize, understand, and assess classical and current pragmatist contributions—from Charles S. Peirce to Cornel West—evaluate existing views from a pragmatist angle, formulate pragmatist critiques, and develop a pragmatist viewpoint on a specific issue.

    The book discusses:

    • Classical pragmatists, including Peirce, James, Dewey, and Addams;
    • Contemporary figures, including Rorty, Putnam, Haack, and West;
    • Connections with other twentieth-century approaches, including phenomenology, critical theory, and logical positivism;
    • Peirce’s pragmatic maxim and its relation to James’s Will to Believe;
    • Applications to philosophy of law, feminism, and issues of race and racism.

    1. Introduction

    2. Peirce and the Principle of Pragmatism

    3. William James: Pragmatism and the Will to Believe

    4. The Pragmatic Humanism of F.C.S. Schiller

    5. European Reception I: France and Italy

    6. Peirce Revisited: The Normative Turn

    7. Josiah Royce and George Herbert Mead

    8. Pragmatism and the Problems of Life: Dewey, Addams, and Bourne

    9. Conceptual Pragmatism From Lewis to Davidson

    10. The European Reception Revisited

    11. The Neopragmatism of Richard Rorty

    12. Hilary Putnam: Philosophy with a Human Face

    13. Susan Haack: Reclaiming Pragmatism

    14. Legal Pragmatism

    15. Prophetic Pragmatism and Feminist Inspirations

    16. Pragmatism and the End(s) of Philosophy


    Cornelis de Waal is Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and Editor-in-Chief of the Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society. Previously he was one of the editors of The Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition. In addition to numerous journal articles, he authored Charles S. Peirce: A Guide for the Perplexed (2013) and On Mead (2002). He is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Charles S. Peirce.

    "Pragmatism is in fashion once again. However, it is not easy to explain with accuracy and clarity what pragmatism really is. Even for its founders C. S. Peirce, W. James and J. Dewey, it was not easy to define this way of doing philosophy. In recent decades the works of Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty and Susan Haack have provided new life to this American tradition, that starts to emerge —as de Waal holds— as a philosophy focused in the future rather than the past.

    In this complex field this book of Cornelius de Waal is a jewel of clarity, textual precision an intellectual finesse. This book is a must for whoever interested in knowing what pragmatism is, its history, its validity today and its fruitfulness for the culture of the 21st century. In sum, an excellent book, extremely useful for philosophers and general readers."
    Jaime Nubiola, Universidad de Navarra