Historicism in pragmatism: Lessons in historiography and philosophy

Metaphilosophy 41 (5):690-713 (2010)
Abstract: Pragmatism involves simultaneous commitments to modes of inquiry that are philosophical and historical. This article begins by demonstrating this point as it is evidenced in the historicist pragmatisms of William James and John Dewey. Having shown that pragmatism focuses philosophical attention on concrete historical processes, the article turns to a discussion of the specific historiographical commitments consistent with this focus. This focus here is on a pragmatist version of historical inquiry in terms of the central historiographical categories of the object of historical inquiry and mode of historical periodization. After describing the basic historiographical consequences of pragmatism's historicism, the article moves to a discussion of the philosophical results of this historicism. The focus here is on the role that historical inquiry can play in the general philosophical perspective of pragmatism as well as on some recent texts that exemplify the dual pragmatist commitment to philosophy and history
Keywords William James  pragmatism  historicism  John Dewey  philosophy of history  historiography  Richard Rorty
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2010.01662.x
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