American Pragmatism

Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition founded by three American philosophers: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey. Starting from Alexander Bain's definition of belief as a rule or habit of action, Peirce argued that the function of inquiry is not to represent reality, but rather to enable us to act more effectively. He was critical of the 'copy theory' of knowledge which had dominated philosophy since the time of Descartes, and especially of the idea of immediate, intuitive self- knowledge. He was also a prophet of the linguistic turn, one of the first philosophers to say that the ability to use signs is essential to thought.

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