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100 Years of Pragmatism: William James's Revolutionary by John J. Stuhr

By John J. Stuhr

William James claimed that his Pragmatism: a brand new identify for a few previous methods of considering could end up positive and epoch-making. at the present time, after greater than a hundred years, how is pragmatism to be understood? What has been its cultural and philosophical influence? Is it a very important source for present difficulties and for all times and notion sooner or later? John J. Stuhr and the celebrated participants to this multidisciplinary quantity tackle those questions, situating them in own, philosophical, political, American, and worldwide contexts. enticing James in unique methods, those eleven essays probe and expand the importance of pragmatism as they specialize in 4 significant, overlapping issues: pragmatism and American tradition; pragmatism as a mode of considering and settling disagreements; pragmatism as conception of fact; and pragmatism as a temper, perspective, or temperament.

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Rather than insisting that one’s identity is always fixed by one’s grandparents, to use a formulation often associated with Kallen, or offering his now equally familiar image of American society as a symphony in which various ethnic groups represent different groups of instruments, Kallen at first sought 18 • James T. Kloppenberg merely to emphasize the distinctive cultural resources available to individuals from different backgrounds as they shape their own lives and help shape the culture in which they live.

Kloppenberg important? In medicine it might seem obvious that the appropriate standard is health, but in some areas, especially in the realm of psychiatry, is the appropriate standard a drug-induced tranquility or a deeper—albeit more elusive, and sometimes even painful—degree of self-understanding? In law, is the standard of what works to be arrived at through forceful and precedent-setting judicial decision making or rather through merely structuring the terms of a conflict that must be worked out through the chaotic process of democratic wrangling?

Instead, Brendel argues in Healing Psychiatry: Bridging the Science/ Humanism Divide, the medical profession needs to embrace what he calls “clinical pragmatism,” an approach resting on four pillars—practical, pluralistic, provisional, and participatory—all of which descend directly from the insights of the founders of pragmatism. First, rather than bull-headedly prescribing standard treatments in all cases, psychiatrists should concentrate on practical results for individual patients and acknowledge that the same approach does not work in all cases.

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