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  1. #1
    Junior Member Smeckledorf's Avatar
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    Default Help me understand the true meaning of pragmatism, please

    "Pragmatism is a rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists develop their philosophy around the idea that the function of thought is as an instrument or tool for prediction, action, and problem solving. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes rather than in terms of representative accuracy."

    These words are from this Wikipedia page (Pragmatism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), and I'm having a hard time grasping them. (And that is a tough feeling for INTPs)

    If someone wants to shed some light, please do. Thanks.

  2. #2
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeckledorf View Post
    "Pragmatism is a rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists develop their philosophy around the idea that the function of thought is as an instrument or tool for prediction, action, and problem solving. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes rather than in terms of representative accuracy."

    These words are from this Wikipedia page (Pragmatism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), and I'm having a hard time grasping them. (And that is a tough feeling for INTPs)

    If someone wants to shed some light, please do. Thanks.
    No worries mate. As we perceive by making distinctions, let as make the distinction between pragmatism and ideology.

    So we distinguish between America and Australia: and America is ideological while Oz is pragmatic.

    But why is America ideological and Oz pragmatic?

    The answer lies in our very foundations: America was founded by religious dissenters while Oz was founded by the Scottish and English Enlightenment.

    And so American religious dissenters had ideas they wished go put into practice, while Oz Enlightenment was looking for evidence and reason for what actually worked.

    So the economy of Oz actually works, while America is caught in the idea of the unregulated free market.

    The civil society of Oz is peaceful. We gained our independence from Britain and united a whole Continent without killing anyone. And we banned guns and put an end to gun massacres in Oz.

    By contrast the civil society of America is violent. America started off by killing their own people in their war against lawful authority in order to gain independence, followed up by further killing of their own people in a civil war. And not content with this America continues to kill its own people and commit regular gun massacres even of small children by their idea of the right to bear arms.

    So the devil has led the American people up the garden path through ideology, while our better angels have guided Oz to pragmatism.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Smeckledorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    -snip-
    I get the difference between pragmatic and ideological; what I need is clarification for the excerpt I posted -- especially this: "rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality."

    I guess the title I chose for this thread was a bit misleading.

    (and holy shit; you really wanted to get your two cents in, didn't you? )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeckledorf View Post
    I get the difference between pragmatic and ideological; what I need is clarification for the excerpt I posted -- especially this: "rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality." [...]
    Off the top of my head (and without having read the Wiki article), I would say that pragmatism is like Extraverted Thinking (Te), and its opposite is like Introverted Thinking (Ti).

    An example, with the non-pragmatic (Ti) view first:

    Ti philosophy might say that human beings have no free will, and it trots out lots of arguments about how humans are bound by the laws of science, and the laws of science are deterministic even at the atomic level. Thus, any given thought we have is the result of one sub-atomic particle smacking into another sub-atomic particle, and that collision of sub-atomic particles is determined by the collision previous to that one, etc. etc. all the way back to the Big Bang.

    Te pragmatism, on the other hand, understands Ti's argument but says that none of it matters. It's all mental masturbation, no one knows for sure, etc. Meanwhile, the fact remains that on the daily and personal level we have choice: We can choose to smoke or quit smoking, we can choose to eat lots of comfort food and gain weight or eat healthy and get fit, etc. So in the end, the Te pragmatist says that argumentation about free will is kind of a red herring, at least at the daily and personal level. At the daily and personal level, we still have a lot of control over our fate. That control may ultimately prove to be illusory, but the key word here is "ultimately": Pragmatists generally don't worry about "ultimately."

    Disclaimer (because I don't want to find myself on the receiving end of an INTP/ENTP shitstorm): I'm not a philosopher; this is just my own off-the-cuff interpretation of pragmatism. Also, I'm not saying that either view is wrong or right. Too much Ti can lead one to a feeling of impotency, i.e., a sense that nothing is worth accomplishing because all motivations are suspect. Meantime, too much Te can lead to arbitrariness and excessive relativism.

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    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeckledorf View Post
    I get the difference between pragmatic and ideological; what I need is clarification for the excerpt I posted -- especially this: "rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality."

    I guess the title I chose for this thread was a bit misleading.

    (and holy shit; you really wanted to get your two cents in, didn't you? )
    My God, you are complaining about two cents when you got a hundred dollar reply.

    And as a pragmatist might say, the important thing is not to understand the world but to change it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    Off the top of my head (and without having read the Wiki article), I would say that pragmatism is like Extraverted Thinking (Te), and its opposite is like Introverted Thinking (Ti).

    An example, with the non-pragmatic (Ti) view first:

    Ti philosophy might say that human beings have no free will, and it trots out lots of arguments about how humans are bound by the laws of science, and the laws of science are deterministic even at the atomic level. Thus, any given thought we have is the result of one sub-atomic particle smacking into another sub-atomic particle, and that collision of sub-atomic particles is determined by the collision previous to that one, etc. etc. all the way back to the Big Bang.

    Te pragmatism, on the other hand, understands Ti's argument but says that none of it matters. It's all mental masturbation, no one knows for sure, etc. Meanwhile, the fact remains that on the daily and personal level we have choice: We can choose to smoke or quit smoking, we can choose to eat lots of comfort food and gain weight or eat healthy and get fit, etc. So in the end, the Te pragmatist says that argumentation about free will is kind of a red herring, at least at the daily and personal level. At the daily and personal level, we still have a lot of control over our fate. That control may ultimately prove to be illusory, but the key word here is "ultimately": Pragmatists generally don't worry about "ultimately."

    Disclaimer (because I don't want to find myself on the receiving end of an INTP/ENTP shitstorm): I'm not a philosopher; this is just my own off-the-cuff interpretation of pragmatism. Also, I'm not saying that either view is wrong or right. Too much Ti can lead one to a feeling of impotency, i.e., a sense that nothing is worth accomplishing because all motivations are suspect. Meantime, too much Te can lead to arbitrariness and excessive relativism.
    I agree with this. When I was in college I was determined to have a pragmatic teaching style. I think it's also about how much a particular philosophy can be applied to the living of day to day life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    My God, you are complainging about two cents when you got a hundred dollar reply.

    And as a pragmatist might say, the important thing is not to understand the world but to change it.
    Come on Mole. You know you always have an agenda. Do you ever simply just answer a question?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    Come on Mole. You know you always have an agenda. Do you ever simply just answer a question?
    Of course I have an agenda. In fact I have about five agendas.

    And you may have noticed that when I am attacked, I take the opportunity to further an agenda.

    And normally I don't just answer a question because most are leading questions. So instead of answering the question, I address the underlying assumptions.

    All of this comes with one exception, and that exception is Marmotini.

    I make Marmotini my exception because I like to look after my Marmotini.

    Who wouldn't?
    Likes Thalassa liked this post

  9. #9
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Meat is a food rich of high quality protein, and we need protein to survive. It's smart to eat meat. That's a pragmatic approach.

    If you take another approach, meat is body part of a dead animal that got killed for you to have a nutritious meal. Do we have the right to kill animals? Why do we treat dogs and cats nicely and other animals get killed? Isn't that hypocrite?

    Here I'm using my thoughts to 'describe, represent, or mirror reality', which is on the opposite end of pragmatism.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeckledorf View Post
    If someone wants to shed some light, please do. Thanks.
    Hear a simple answer from Richard Rorty:



    Quote Originally Posted by Smeckledorf View Post
    I get the difference between pragmatic and ideological; what I need is clarification for the excerpt I posted -- especially this: "rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality."
    It means that the distinction between what seems to be reality and what reality really is, the thing in itself, is finally given up. To Plato, the realm of ideas was more real than the world of appearances he lived in. This myth of a truth behind the world, written in mathematical or religious terms, has pervaded western thought ever since. Pragmatists aim to be a little more realistic. Man is not the great representer of that true reality, but just a 'clever animal' that figures out 'better and better ways' to get by.

    This might enlighten you further.
    Last edited by Nicodemus; 08-22-2014 at 01:04 AM.

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