|American philosopher |
William James (1842-1910)
Think of how the words "pragmatic" and "pragmatism" are used in the English language. We say of a certain politician, for example, that he is "pragmatic." In other words, he favors getting results over strict adherence to an ideology. James's concern is with a more philosophical pragmatism. Such a pragmatism, he writes, is "first, a method; and second, a genetic theory of what is meant by truth." The method is one of radical empiricism (i.e., a strong reliance on observation and experience in establishing our knowledge), the "genetic theory," one that most values truths that make a practical difference in our lives.
|My wife's well-worn copy of "Pragmatism"|
(list price $1.50: cheap!)
In a Jamesian formulation, "climate change" becomes not a "solving name," but "a program for more work." Or, as James put it most famously: "We must bring out of each word its cash value."