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[xmca] Re: Pragmatism and Continental philosophy

Michael, I don't know my American philosophy very well, but I think it is universally agreed that Pragmatism is a uniquely American product and one good thing that America has given the world, too. But I do still regard Dewey as one of the best Hegel interpreters of his time. I don't have any text to illustrate this, but I do have Mead:


and Peirce:


It is Dewey's work on team work, group dynamics and collaborative problem solving that I read years ago that really inspired my own reading of Hegel. Though Sartre's "Critique of Dialectical Reason" was helpful too.

Michael Glassman wrote:
Hi Andy,
No actually Dewey never went to Europe, though he studied in America with a noted Hegelian (for the life of me I can't remember his name now, but Dewey named one of his children after him). James studied in Europe but he was primarily influenced I think by Wundt's empiricism, which you can really see as an important part of Pragmatism, not really the European philosophies. Peirce I'm pretty sure did not study in Europe at all. Mead studied in Europe as well, but I tend to think his true intellectual development occurred after he started teaching at Michigan with Cooley but especially Dewey (who became his best friend and lifelong intellectual partner) I guess you could say pragmatism started in the last decade of the 18th century, and it is generally believed it was a reaction to the horrors of the Civil War. The more I read and think about it the more I think Pragmatism was organic and evolving and especially the Pragmatism of Dewey and Mead were at least as influenc
ed by the upheavels of the labor movement in Chicago as well as the Settlement House movement.
I really don't think you can call Pragmatism a reaction or response to Hegel. I don't think James or Peirce were influenced at all by Hegel. I think one story is that Dewey was originally a Hegelian but became restless with the dialectic as explanation, believing it put just too much about who we are inside the head. His article on the Reflex Arc in I think 1896 was seminal not only in his thinking but in Pragmatism in general (I would go so far as to say it actually influenced James, who then influence Peirce. But of course Peirce's logic also influenced Dewey. It was something of a mash). Dewey and Mead gave up the dialectic I think, but never really gave up on Hegel's organicism, which became an important part of their ideas on human progress (this led to a split in Pragmatism which is codified in Stephen Pepper's distinction between Contextualism and Organicism in his book World Hypotheses (Pepper seems to have been a Pragmatist closer to the James/Peirce view an
d was in debate with Dewey, particularly about aesthetics.
If by Analytic philosophy you mean Logical Positivism and the Vienna Circle I think yes that was considered very much of an import prior to WW2. As a matter of fact one of the founders of the Vienna Circle visited Dewey in the United States to try and help him get the idea traction in the US (Dewey seems to have refused believing that they were not really understanding his philosophy or the role of empiricism). I don't think most Pragmatists would think that Quine reconciled Pragmatism and the Vienna Circle. There is absolutely no way Pragmatism can be reconciled with Positivism (in my opinion). I think I would take a very hard line against the idea that Pragmatism is a descendant of German philosophy. Of course no philosophical school springs from the ground whole - and it is probably possible to say that Pragmatism might not have existed without Kant and Hegel coming first (though I am not sure), but I see it as very much a home grown philosophy reacting very much to specific events and issues in the United States, including immigration, the development of new urban centers like Chicago, the rise of the labor unions, the Settlement House movement. Pragmatism was very much a function of its time and place. These days it is easy to forget the extraordinary reach and impact it had in the first half of the twentieth century (I don't know why). Just to respond to something Larry said in an erased message message, I'm not so sure about considering Mead a cognitivist. I don't think he went inside the head to much. If he did it would be a real break with Dewey and James. I'm also not so sure about his being hermeneutic in nature. There is really not much of a reason to try and overlay continental philosophy on Pragmatism although there are certainly a number of common themes (perhaps having something to do with reactions to social upheavels). Michael

From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Andy Blunden
Sent: Thu 8/19/2010 3:05 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Fwd: the Ideal of lived uncertainty as a moral good

On a separate list there has been a discussion going on in
which Ralph Dumain says that Analytical Philosophy was long
(pre WW2) regarded in the US as a "foreign import" and that
Prgamatism is indeed closer to German philosophy than Anglo.
I think that is fair. Dewey and James were both trained in
Germany weren't they? Mead and Dewey were both responding to
Hegel. And American Pragmatism goes back to the 18th
century. I am ignorant here, but even Benjamin Franklin was
surely closer to problems being discussed in Europe??? Does
someone know?

Anyways ... Dumain thinks that Pragmatism and Analytical
Philosophy were reconciled with Quine and after that the
Vienna Circle were the main European source, which I count
as Analytical.


*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
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Book: http://www.brill.nl/scss

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