Tyler 's Reviews > Pragmatism and Other Writings

Pragmatism and Other Writings by William James
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's review
Jun 11, 08

bookshelves: philosophy
Recommended for: Educators, General Philosophy Readers
Read in September, 2004

Pragmatism, it appears, tries to answer a question that hasn't been asked.

Henry James wants to bridge the gap between materialism and idealism, or maybe between rationalism and empiricim. But both sides of those issues are clearly drawn; I saw no need to introduce any bridging concept, and even at that time, James's proposal was anachronistic.

Here, too, one finds James's curious theory of truth: that truth is what works for the immediate purpose. This has a limited application in the field of education, but I don't see any further use for it -- not to say that it hasn't been employed anyhow in the equivocal reasoning of modern deliberations.

Throughout the book, though, I found lots of tidbits -- observations on diverse matters -- that make this short read a worthwhile endeavor. Many of the author's remarks about the state of philosophy at that time are insightful, even if his conclusions bear skepticism.

I found the essays, drawn from a 1907 lecture series, well presented in easily readable. The writing is clear and the entire work is blessedly short. It is suitably interesting and informative enough to recommend to people with a general interest in philosophy and learning.

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