American Pragmatist Philosophy: Purposes, Meanings, and Truths|
Fall 2015 not offered
The course sketches and evaluates an American tradition of more or less overtly pragmatist thinkers in philosophy and the human sciences, stretching roughly from Emerson and Peirce at the beginning; through William James, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey in the heyday of the pragmatist public intellectual; to recent and current writers as diverse as Cornell West, Robert Brandom, Richard Rorty, Ian Hacking, and Ruth Millikan. These thinkers offer variations on the premise that all meanings gesture not only backward to facts and things, but also forward to the practical circumstances and purposes of interpreters. As purposes shift, so do meanings, and as meanings shift, so does truth--for whether we accept a claim as true depends above all else on its meaning. Pragmatist theories have been subjected to frequent caricature as implying that ideas can mean whatever we take them to mean or that what is true varies according to what each individual finds convenient and expedient to believe. What does it mean, then, to retain a sense of respect for truth? While some pragmatist accounts do explicitly deflate the importance of the concept of truth, others claim not only to respect truth, but to offer an account of truth that allows us to inquire more clearly into the evolving but real meaning of moral judgments, religious and aesthetic claims, psychological attributions, and other deeply contested candidates for human belief.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)(CSCT)(PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)(SISP-Phil Ethic)(SISP-Phil Mind)
For background reading: Menand, _The Metaphysical Club_
R.W. Emerson, _Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays, Lectures and Poems_ (New York: Bantam Classics, 1996).
C.S. Peirce (Buchler, ed.), _Philosophical Writings of Peirce_ (New York: Dover, 1986).
W. James (McDermott, ed.), _The Writings of William James_ (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977).
J. Dewey (McDermott, ed.), _The Philosophy of John Dewey_ (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973).
Additional articles and chapters to be made available
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Two essays: either two independent essays, about 2000 words; or one 2000-word essay and one revised and expanded version, about 3500 words. (50%)
Contributions to seminar: Leading discussion once or twice, regular contributions in class and on moodle forum. (50%)
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