Pragmatism - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Sociology

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Pragmatism, the Greek root word of which means "action," grew out of a turn-of-the-century reaction in American philosophy to Enlightenment conceptions of science, human nature, and social order. Generally, it has sought to reconcile incompatibilities between philosophical idealism and realism. In the former, reality is conceived of as existing only in human experience and subjectivity, and is given in the form of perceptions and ideas. In the latter, reality is proposed as existing in the form of essences or absolutes that are independent of human experience. These two traditions have grounded different approaches to empiricism and in their extremes can be found, respectively, in the solipsism of the British philosopher George Berkeley and the positivistic embracement of natural law by the French sociologist Auguste Comte.

As a response and an alternative to these traditions, pragmatism has not been developed as a unified philosophical system. Rather, it has existed...

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This section contains 4,359 words
(approx. 15 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Pragmatism Encyclopedia Article
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Pragmatism from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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