The Century Dictionary/Volume 12/P
pragmatism, n. 3. In philos., a method of thought, a general movement or tendency of thought, and a specific school, in which stress is placed upon practical consequences and practical values as standards for explicating philosophic conceptions and as tests for determining their value and, especially, their truth. The word is used in a variety of senses, of greater or less breadth and definiteness. The following meanings of the term are arranged in the order of descending generality: (a) An attitude of mind, namely that of "looking away from first things, principles, 'categories,' supposed necessities, and of looking toward last things, fruits, consequences, facts." W. James, Pragmatism, a New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, p. 55. (b) A theory concerning the proper method of determining the meaning of conceptions. "Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object." C. S. Peirce, in Baldwin's Dict. of Philos. and Psychol., II. This theory was first propounded by Mr. Peirce in an article upon "How to Make our Ideas Clear" in the "Popular Science Monthly" in 1878. The term 'pragmatism' does not, however, appear there. In an article in the "Monist" for 1905, Mr. Peirce says that he "has used it continually in philosophic conversation, since, perhaps, the mid-seventies." The term was publicly introduced in print by Professor William James in 1898 in an address upon "Philosophic Conceptions and Practical Realities," in which the authorship of the term and of the method is credited to Mr. Peirce. The latter has recently used the term 'pragmaticism' to express this meaning. (c) The theory that the processes and the materials of knowledge are determined by practical or purposive considerations—that there is no such thing as knowledge determined by exclusively theoretical, speculative, or abstract intellectual considerations. This definition expresses the net or mean sense of the term in its various uses. "Now quite the most striking feature of the new theory was its recognition of an inseparable connection between rational cognition and rational purpose; and that consideration it was which determined the preference for the name 'pragmatism.'" C. S. Peirce, in The Monist, 1905. F. C. S. Schiller has defined pragmatism as "the thorough recognition that the purposive character of mental life generally must influence and pervade also our most remotely cognitive activities." Humanism, Philosophic Essays, p. 8.
Pragmatism—by which I mean the doctrine that reality possesses practical character and that this character is most efficaciously expressed in the function of intelligence. J. Dewey, in Essays Philosophical and Psychological, p. 59.
(d) A theory of the nature of truth, namely, that the correspondence between fact and idea which constitutes truth consists in the power of the idea in question to work satisfactorily, or to produce the results intended by it.
Such then would be the scope of pragmatism—first, a method, and second, a genetic theory of what is meant by truth. W. James, Pragmatism, p. 65.
(e) A metaphysical theory regarding the nature of reality, namely that it is still in process of making, and that human ideas and efforts play a fundamental rôle in its making: the equivalent of humanism as a metaphysical term.
The essential contrast is that for rationalism reality is ready-made and complete from all eternity, while for pragmatism it is still in the making, and awaits part of its complexion from the future. W. James, Pragmatism, p. 257.
Pragmatism . . . is a conscious application to epistemology (or logic) of a teleological psychology, which implies, ultimately, a voluntaristic metaphysic F. C. S. Schiller, Studies in Humanism, p. 12.