Pragmatism as Transition: Historicity and Hope in James, Dewey, and Rorty

Paperback | November 3, 2015

byColin Koopman

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Pragmatism is America's best-known native philosophy. It espouses a practical set of beliefs and principles that focus on the improvement of our lives. Yet the split between classical and contemporary pragmatists has divided the tradition against itself. Classical pragmatists, such as John Dewey and William James, believed we should heed the lessons of experience. Neopragmatists, including Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, and Jürgen Habermas, argue instead from the perspective of a linguistic turn, which makes little use of the idea of experience. Can these two camps be reconciled in a way that revitalizes a critical tradition?

Colin Koopman proposes a recovery of pragmatism by way of "transitionalist" themes of temporality and historicity which flourish in the work of the early pragmatists and continue in contemporary neopragmatist thought. "Life is in the transitions," James once wrote, and, in following this assertion, Koopman reveals the continuities uniting both phases of pragmatism. Koopman's framework also draws from other contemporary theorists, including Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Bernard Williams, and Stanley Cavell. By reflecting these voices through the prism of transitionalism, a new understanding of knowledge, ethics, politics, and critique takes root. Koopman concludes with a call for integrating Dewey and Foucault into a model of inquiry he calls genealogical pragmatism, a mutually informative critique that further joins the analytic and continental schools.

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Pragmatism is America's best-known native philosophy. It espouses a practical set of beliefs and principles that focus on the improvement of our lives. Yet the split between classical and contemporary pragmatists has divided the tradition against itself. Classical pragmatists, such as John Dewey and William James, believed we should h...

Colin Koopman is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon and author of Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity.

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Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity
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Genealogy As Critique: Foucault And The Problems Of Modernity
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:November 3, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231148755

ISBN - 13:9780231148757

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: What Pragmatism Does 1. Transitionalism, Meliorism, and Cultural Criticism2. Transitionalism in the Pragmatist Tradition3. Three Waves of Pragmatism4. Knowledge as Transitioning5. Ethics as Perfecting6. Politics as Progressing7. Critical Inquiry as Genealogical PragmatismNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Well-written and valuable for students of American pragmatism.