Pragmatism in the United States

Perhaps the most distinctive contribution of America to philosophy is pragmatism. Founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by James, Dewey, and Pierce, pragmatism holds that an idea’s truth and meaning are actually a precept of its associated practical outcome (“12 – American Transcendentalism and Pragmatism”). As a result, pragmatists refuted all forms of absolutism and emphasized the importance of treating all principles as working hypotheses that must lead to a conclusion based on lived experience. I found the ethical principles that are in opposition to interest and duty, as well as intelligence and character, to be more significant among Dewey’s ethical principles. In regard to Dewey`s principle of the opposition of interest and duty, it is highlighted that there is probably no antithesis that is often set up more in a moral discussion than the one between acting based on the principle and based on interest. Dewey observes ‘‘to act on principle is to act disinterestedly, according to a general law, which is above all personal considerations.’’ This principle substitutes the changing pragmatism of the devotion moment to an unswerving the moral law. Supporters of the side of interest of controversy, habitually employ the term self-interest. Building from the foundation that unless an idea or object has an attached interest, there can be no motive force, they conclude that even when an individual asserts to acting based on the sense of duty or principle, really he acts so since there is something attached to it for himself. This premise is sound but the conclusion is false. The opposing school, on the other hand, presents that because man has the ability to self-sacrifice and self-forget generously, he has the ability to act without interest. This premise again is sound but the conclusion is false. On both sides, the error lies in the false notion of interest relation and the self (“Democracy And Education: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Education By Dewey”).

On the principle of intelligence and character, Dewey notes that often a noteworthy paradox accompanies discussions relating to morals. There is the identification of a moral with a rationale, on one hand. A reason is instituted as the faculty from which other moral intuitions emanate, on which it’s argued to supply the sole proper moral motive. The concrete value, on the other hand, there is an underestimation of everyday intelligence and even depreciated deliberately. Often, morals are believed to be the affair with which the ordinary knowledge has actually nothing to do. Also, moral thought is believed a distinct thing, and conscience is believed to be something that is radically different from the consciousness. If valid, this separation is of significance for education. In school, moral education is hopeless practically when we regard to character development to be supreme while at the same time treating knowledge acquisition together with the development of understanding as not contributing greatly to character development. In this connection, moral education is reduced inevitably to a type of catechetical instruction – lessons about morals. Dewey observes ‘‘Knowledge that other persons are supposed to know something might lead one to act so as to win the approbation others attach to certain actions.’’ Accordingly, it is unnecessary to dispute concerning the appropriate meaning of knowledge because it is sufficient for the purposes of education to be aware of the diverse qualities covered under one name to know that it is the gained knowledge at first hand via the necessity of experience that affects in some way the conduct (“Democracy And Education: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Education By Dewey”).

The third principle of Dewey relates to acting based on self-interest and without interest. Dewey remarks ‘‘to act according to interest is, so the allegation rums, to act selfishly, with one’s own personal profit in view.’’ On the proviso that self is something that is fixed antecedent to the o action, then acting on interest implies attempting to acquire more in regard to possessions for self, whether in the form of power over others, approval of others, fame, pleasure, or pecuniary profit. Consequently, the reaction from such a viewpoint has the cynical depreciation of the human nature results in the perception that individuals who act nobly actually act without interests. In spite of that, unbiased judgment still could look plain in that an individual ought to be interested in the activity he is undertaking or would not undertake. For instance, a physician who continues to serve patients in a plague which is almost certain of danger to his life ought to be interested in the effective performance of their profession. Actually, more interest in it than his body safety. However, there are distorting facts when it is concluded that this interest is just a mask for the interest in another thing which they get by continuing to offer the customary services like good repute, virtue or money. This is solely a path to the ulterior selfish end. When it is recognized that self-does not constitute something that is ready-made, rather something that is in continuous formation via the choice of action, then the entire situation clears up. An individual`s interest in continuing with his work irrespective of the risk of life implies that their self is in that work. On the other hand, if this individual gives up finally and prefers comfort or personal safety, it will imply that they have preferred to be that type of a self (“Democracy And Education: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Education By Dewey”).

In conclusion, the three principles by Dewey that I found to be significant to the reading includes the ideology of acting disinterestedly as per the general law that is above all self considerations, the knowledge that all people are required to understand something which can make one act with the aim of winning the approbation that s have affixed to certain actions as well as act as per the interest so that one acts selfishly with the purpose of gaining.

Work Cited

“12 – American Transcendentalism And Pragmatism.” CourseLinks. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.

“Democracy And Education: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Education By Dewey.” N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.

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