David Rondel
University of Nevada, Reno
This book, one of the most recent in Cambridge University Press's large and growing companion series, provides a well-rounded overview of American pragmatism's beginnings, its "revival" in the mid to late twentieth century, and some of the ways in which it might be "put to work" in addressing questions about aesthetics, politics, religion, law, and education. The volume begins with an introduction by editor Alan Malachowski, which helpfully sets out American pragmatism's "orientation," a few of its guiding themes, along with a summary of several issues on which pragmatists have tended to diverge. One of these has to do with narrating the recent history of pragmatism itself. On the so-called "dominant" or "eclipse" story, pragmatism was "eclipsed by analytic philosophy" and "became a historical curiosity, residing as a dim relic in the museum of ideas." (3) While Malachowski wants his volume to offer "a relatively neutral overview of pragmatism" (xiii), and thus tries to avoid "taking a stand on issues concerning the respective merits of different forms of pragmatism" (xiv), he nonetheless agrees with other pragmatist commentators like Cheryl Misak and Robert Talisse in thinking that the "dominant narrative is badly mistaken." (9) When "the development of analytic philosophy . . . is examined more carefully," Malachowski writes, "it . . . becomes clear that rather than remaining dormant, or being discarded, in the face of that development, pragmatist ideas exerted a good deal of influence."
Keywords Pragmatism  History of Philosophy  American Philosophy
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