Old pragmatisms, new histories

Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 489-521 (2009)

Abstract

The task at hand is to review work on the history of early American pragmatism from the last ten years. However, writing on the history of pragmatism presents us with a different problem than, say, dealing with historical accounts of Mill’s Logic. The meaning of ‘pragmatism’ is routinely contested and, likewise, who is to count as a pragmatist is contested. The issue, of course, arose soon after William James named “pragmatism” in his 1898 talk at Berkeley titled “Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results.” The discussions of pragmatism that ensued in journals soon thereafter marked James, Charles Peirce, John Dewey, and F. C. S. Schiller as pragmatists. There were, as well, a number of “friends” of pragmatism such as Addison Moore. There were also clear-cut opponents of pragmatism including the likes of Paul Carus and James E. Creighton. But issues quickly muddied the waters. American idealist Josiah Royce, objecting to what he took to be the intellectually loose Jamesian-Schillerian strand of pragmatism, named them ‘pure pragmatists’, and then...

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