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
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
offer variations on the premise that all meanings gesture not only backwards to facts and things, but also forwards to the practical circumstances and purposes of interpreters. As purposes shift, so do meanings: and as
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 judgements, religious and aesthetic claims, psychological attributions, and other deeply contested candidates for human belief.
COURSE FORMAT: Seminar
Level: UGRD Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA PHIL Grading Mode: Student Option
Prerequisites: NONE Links to Web Resources For This Course.
Last Updated on MAR-30-2006
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