Home » Articole » Articles » Society » Philosophy » Philosophical concepts » Neo-pragmatism – Criticism of pragmatism

Neo-pragmatism – Criticism of pragmatism


The pragmatism of Richard Rorty

Pragmatism, which established itself in the United States as the dominant current before the Second World War, suffered a long eclipse due to the dominance of the analytical style, but is experiencing a revival, notably through the work of Richard Rorty (born in 1931).

Rorty, coming from the analytical current, but extremely original and strongly criticized for his views on the end of philosophy and for his alleged relativism, considers himself mainly a disciple of Dewey, but also finds his inspiration in the great names of “continental philosophy”, such as Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault or Derrida.

Pragmatism applied to environmental ethics

For some, the contribution of pragmatism to environmental ethics consists in looking at things as they are, and then realizing that to act in the interest of humanity one must preserve the environment. For others, pragmatism applied to environmental ethics tries to oppose anthropocentrism by conceiving our relationship to the environment as an interaction and not as a purely instrumental relationship.

Pragmatism is also applied to environmental ethics, by philosophers like Bryan G. Norton, E.C. Hargrove, Andrew Light and Anthony Weston.

In addition, pragmatism has given rise to a new philosophical current simply called environmental pragmatism. This movement is particularly represented by the works of Minteer and Manning.

Pragmatism in France

Pragmatism was the subject of debate in France, for example by Émile Durkheim, who was extremely critical of it, and by Henri Bergson, whose article on “The Pragmatism of William James” (in Thought and Movement) sees it as a way of thinking close to his own doctrine of science as characteristic of homo faber.

The epistemological constructivism of Jean Piaget or Jean-Louis Le Moigne is clearly inspired by pragmatism.

A current of pragmatic sociology has developed in France since the mid-1980s, with very different authors such as Luc Boltanski, Francis Chateauraynaud, Alain Desrosières, Antoine Hennion, Bruno Latour, Cyril Lemieux, Laurent Thévenot, but, with the exception of Chateauraynaud and Hennion, who claim a form of sociological pragmatism, the first via Dewey, the second via James, French pragmatic sociologists show a distance vis-à-vis pragmatism in the philosophical sense.

In particular, it questions the very meaning of philosophical activity, as well as its role in culture in general.

Pragmatism: reception and criticism

Reception in Germany

In German philosophy, through his work Anthropology in Pragmatic Terms, Kant distinguishes practical duty from pragmatic duty, which belongs to being. The moral imperative is a matter of pure practical reason, while the pragmatic imperative falls within the realm of empirical natural science.

During the reception of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism in Germany, the word “pragmatism” was often used as “practicalism” or “daydreaming”, which had a discouraging or even harmful effect.

Before the Second World War, the most important recipient of this current was Max Scheler, who expressed his reaction in knowledge and work. A study on the value and the limits of the pragmatic motive in the knowledge of the world took place. His work Die Wissensformen der Gesellschaft (The Forms of Knowledge of Society) from 1926 is still under this influence. Scheler distinguishes in particular three types of knowledge:

  • A good knowledge of the knowledge to the practical and technical mastery of the world,
  • Pedagogical knowledge at the service of personality development,
  • The knowledge of salvation as “participation in the highest”.

Scheler expresses his agreement with pragmatism as a philosophical clarification of practical knowledge, if he puts the theoretical statements and the assumptions of science in a correct context with the acting world relation. However, according to Scheler, pragmatism has made the mistake of distinguishing this knowledge as the only correct one; the extreme domination of “power” and “power” must be criticized.

Influenced by Max Scheler, Max Horkheimer also criticized the reduction of all knowledge to reasoned action, which no longer questions its own purpose. In his Kritik der instrumentalellen Vernunft (Critique of instrumental reason) of 1944, he mainly refers to the position of James and Dewey. He identifies pragmatism with positivism. Moreover, it goes so far as to also provide a link between pragmatism and benefit-oriented capitalism.

Moreover, after the Second World War, pragmatism notably marked the works of Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas.

Reception in France

Very quickly, pragmatism became known to Émile Boutroux, Bergson and Émile Durkheim. Jean Wahl, if he was especially interested in the pluralist theme, greatly contributed to making James known in the interwar period. Gérard Deledalle published in 1954 a History of American Philosophy which still remains a reference, he made Dewey known, both through his studies and through his translations, but also Peirce, through his translation of the Writings on the Sign, the works of the IRSCE in Perpignan and also the translation of the texts composing À la Recherche d’une method. Jacques Bouveresse is one of the great introducers of Peirce in France, as well as, later, Christiane Chauviré, Claudine Tiercelin (whose theses he supervised) and Jean-Pierre Cometti in particular. Many international conferences have taken place in Paris and then at the ENS since the early 2000s.

There are several reasons for this prior reluctance to pragmatism. First of all, it came up against the spiritualism and positivism of Comtist inspiration which permeated French philosophical thought at the end of the 19th century, moreover this current did not go well with the use of philosophy as a legitimization of elites which was practiced for a long time in France. On this point, it should be noted that pragmatists do not see philosophy as a field superior to others. Finally, he opposes the thought of René Descartes.

Concerning epistemology, pragmatism is opposed to that which will impose itself after Émile Meyerson following Gaston Bachelard, Jean Cavaillès and Georges Canguilhem. Indeed, epistemologists will orient themselves towards the history of science when pragmatism is turned towards investigation. Moreover, pragmatist philosophy wants to be anti-intellectualist, that is to say that, as we have seen, it is a philosophy of belief and its examination by experience, not a philosophy of ideas. . However, philosophy in France, especially in the sixties and seventies, will be very oriented towards intellectualist currents such as Marxism.

Gilles Deleuze called “pragmatism” “America’s gift to philosophy”.

(Includes texts from Wikipedia translated and adapted by Nicolae Sfetcu)

Causal Loops in Time Travel
Causal Loops in Time Travel

About the possibility of time traveling based on several specialized works, including those of Nicholas J. J. Smith (“Time Travel“), William Grey (”Troubles with Time Travel”), Ulrich Meyer (”Explaining causal loops”), Simon Keller and Michael Nelson (”Presentists should believe in … Read More

not rated $0.00 Select options
Philosophy - Basic Notions, Volume 1
Philosophy – Basic Notions, Volume 1

A basic introduction to the world of philosophy, with answers to the deepest questions we all ask ourselves, through the lens of the world’s greatest philosophers, from Plato and Confucius to modern thinkers. A guide to the fundamental nature of … Read More

not rated $8.99 Select options
Emotions and Emotional Intelligence in Organizations
Emotions and Emotional Intelligence in Organizations

An argumentation for the dualistic importance of emotions in society, individually and at community level. The current tendency of awareness and control of emotions through emotional intelligence has a beneficial effect in business and for the success of social activities but, … Read More

not rated $0.00 Select options

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *