RE: [xmca] Zo-peds, roads, and Senseis

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 16:47:06 PST

This sort of talks to Pragmatism's reliance on experimentalism. I found it interesting that David Backhurst used the term radical empiricism to describe the more liberal aspects of Lenin, because of course James termed his theoretical approach radical empiricism. The idea being you can only know what you do know from experimentation - and understanding the consequences comes from experimentation in particular situations. You determine what the problem is, you determine what the problem would look like if it was solved (in a very concrete manner), and you see if you achieved that end-in-view. Very concrete and very much attached to the situation. I believe that is what Dewey is talking about when he mentions consequences - the only issue is whether you have achieved a solution to the problem - if not, you go back and do another experiment.


From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
Sent: Sun 12/24/2006 6:01 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Zo-peds, roads, and Senseis

At 11:55 AM 24/12/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>... >From Chapter 5 [Dewey]
> "The test of ideas, of thinking generally, is found in the consequences
> of the acts to which the ideas lead, that is in the new arrangements of
> things which are brought into existence. Such is the unequivocal
> evidence as to the worth of ideas which is derived from observing their
> position and rule in experimental knowing. But tradition makes the tests
> of ideas to be their agreement with some antecedent [i.e. already
> existing] state of things. This change of outlook and standard from what
> precedes to what comes after, from the retrospective to the prospective,
> from antecedents to consequences, is extremely hard to accomplish. Hence
> when the physical sciences describe objects and the world as being such
> and such, it is thought that the description is of reality as it exists
> in itself."

It seems to me that the Achilles' heel of American Pragmatism is how it
(and Dewey in the above passage) reduce the relation between consciousness
and activity to: "The test of ideas, of thinking generally, is found in the
consequences of the acts to which the ideas lead." This overlooks the fact
that it is by no means given exactly what these consequences are, at what
time consequences are deemed to have been realised, for whom they are
effective, and from the standpoint of what system of activity they are
assessed; all of which refers back to the very idea which is supposed to be
tested in its consequences. One can equally say: "The test of the
consequences of an act is the ideas, and thinking generally, by which they
were brought about."

Fascinating and important as Dewey is, I prefer Marx.


xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jan 03 2007 - 07:06:19 PST