In philos., a logical process intended to help make ideas clear. It proposes that the meaning of an idea should be determined by the practical, or pragmatic, difference it would make if it were assumed to be true. As bet. 2 ideas, if there were no difference in effect, it would be concluded that either the difference was purely verbal or that the 2 ideas meant the same. First developed by C. S. S. Peirce* in the 1870s; revived and reformulated 1898 by W. James,* who proposed the pragmatic test for the nature of truth itself. Ideas were to be held true if they worked; i. e., if the practical consequences of acting on an idea brought to the individual concerned personal satisfaction, the idea was to be regarded as acceptable, or true, at least in a sense or up to a point. James wanted to confine the application of pragmatism to problems not otherwise verifiable; others felt that the test might be made in any instance. J. Dewey,* sometimes called a pragmatist, preferred his philos, to be called instrumentalism, later experimentalism. Pragmatism has stressed use of interest in learning, because the pragmatic test of truth is affected by the interest of the learner. Pragmatism has no proper application to the transcendental, where divine revelation is the deciding factor. See also Humanist Manifesto, A.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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